Way of Essenic Studies
The Perfect Way represents a discovery to ascertain the nature and method of existence. It also represents a recovery because the system propounded has proved to be that which constituted the basic and secret doctrines of all the great religions of antiquity, including Christianity, – the doctrine commonly called the Gnosis, and variously entitled Hermetic and Kabbalistic.
THE PERFECT WAY PART 1
Lecture the First - Introductory
Lecture the Second The Soul - and the substance of existence
Lecture the Third - The various orders of Spirits; and to discern them
Lecture the Fourth - The Atonement
Lecture the Fifth - The nature and constitution of the ego
Lecture the Sixth - The Fall (1)
Lecture the Seventh - The Fall (2)
THE PERFECT WAY PART 2
Lecture the Eight - The Redemption
Lecture the Ninth - God as the Lord; or, the Divine Image
Concerning the interpretation of scripture
Concerning the hereafter
On prophesying; and prophecy
Concerning the nature of Sin
Concerning the "Great Work" and the share of Christ Jesus therein
The time of the End
The Higher Alchemy
Concerning the Poet
Concerning the One Life
Concerning the Mysteries
Hymn to the Planet God
Fragments of the "Golden Book of Venus"
Hymn of Aphrodite
A discourse of communion of souls, and of the uses of love between creature and creature.
Hymn to Hermes
The Secret of Satan
Figure - 1 - The Cherubim of Ezekiel and the Apocalypse
Figure - 2 - The tabernacle in the wilderness
Figure - 3 - Section of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh
ESOTERIC PUBLISHING COMPANY,
478 Shawmut Avenue.
These lectures were delivered in London, before a private audience, in the months of May, June, and July, 1881.
The changes made in this edition calling for indication, are, – the substitution of another Lecture for No. V., and consequent omission of most of the plates; the rewriting, in the whole or part, of paragraphs 6 - 8 and 28 in No. I.; 34 - 36 in No. II.; 5 - 8, 12, 13, 22, 23, 42, 43, 54, and 55, in No. IX. (the latter paragraphs being replaced by a new one); the lengthening of Appendices II, and VI; the addition of a new Part to Appendix XIII. (formerly No. IX); and the substitution of eight new Appendices for Nos:. VII., and VIII.
The alterations involve no change or withdrawal of doctrine, but only extension of scope, amplification of statement, or modification of expression.
A certain amount of repetition being inseparable from the form adopted, – that of a series of expository lectures, each requiring to be complete in itself, – and the retention of that form being unavoidable, – no attempt has been made to deal with the instances in which repetition occurs.
PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION
In presenting an American edition of THE PERFECT WAY, or, The Finding of Christ, to the reading and inquiring public, we have been actuated by the conviction that a comprehensive textbook of the “new views,” or the restored wisdom and knowledge of the ages regarding religion or the perfect life, was imperatively required, wherein the subject was treated in a manner luminous, instructive, and entertaining, and which, without abridgement, or inferiority of material or workmanship, could yet be sold at a price that would bring the work within the means of the general public.
THE PERFECT WAY will be found to be an occult library in itself, and those desirous of coming into the esoteric knowledge and significance of life, will be richly repaid by its study or perusal; and especially will those who feel that they cannot afford the means or time to purchase and read many books, do well to make this one of their first choice. To such, and all who are seeking new light, life, and higher inspiration, we respectfully dedicate the American edition.
PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION.As the writers rather than the authors of this book, we propose on behalf of a more ready apprehension of it, and the satisfaction of much questioning concerning it to take occasion of the issue of this Edition to give a succinct account of its nature and import.
That which The Perfect Way represents is neither an invention nor a compilation, but first, a discovery, and next, a recovery. It represents a discovery because it is the result of an attempt – proved successful by the issue – to ascertain at first hand the nature and method of existence. And it represents a recovery because the system propounded in it has proved to be that which constituted the basic and secret doctrine of all the great religions of antiquity, including Christianity, – the doctrine commonly called the Gnosis, and variously entitled Hermetic and Kabbalistic.
In yet another sense does The Perfect Way represent a recovery, and also – for ourselves – a discovery, seeing that it was independent of any prior knowledge on our part. This is as regards Faculty. For the knowledges concerned, although verified by subsequent research in the ordinary manner, were obtained solely by means of the faculty which consists in perception and recollection of the kind called intuitional and psychic, and therefore by the method which in all ages has been recognized as the means of access to knowledges transcendental and divine. Being fully described in the book (e.g. Lect. i. pars. 4-18; App. iii., Part 1, etc.), this faculty needs no further definition here. It is necessary, however, to state this in relation to it: That the value of the recovery of the knowledges concerned, great as it is for the intrinsic interest and importance of subject, is indefinitely enhanced by the manner of its accomplishment. For, much as it is to know the conclusions of ancient wisdom concerning the most momentous of topics, and to recognize their logical excellence, it is far more to know their truth, seeing that they involve the nature and destiny of man in all time. It is this supreme question which finds satisfactory solution in the present case. Had the recovery been made in the ordinary manner, namely, through the examination of neglected writings or the discovery of lost ones, methods which, however successful would have been altogether inadequate for the results actually attained, – no step would have been gained towards the verification of the doctrines involved. Whereas, as it is, for ourselves, and for all those who with us are cognizant of the genesis of this book, and who are at the same time sufficiently matured in respect of the spiritual consciousness to be able to accept the facts, – that is, for all who know to be able to believe, – the book constitutes of itself an absolute confirmation of its own teaching, and, therein, of the recovered Gnosis. For, being due to intuitional recollection and perception, – faculties exercised in complete independence of the physical organism, – it demonstrate the essentially spiritual nature of existence; the reality of the soul as the true ego; the multiple rebirths of this ego into material conditions; its persistence through all changes of form and state; and its ability, while yet in the body, to recover and communicate of the knowleges which, in the long ages of its past as an individualized entity, it has acquired concerning God, the universe, and itself. In respect of all these, the experiences of which this book is the result, – although themselves rarely referred to in it, – have been such, both in kind and quantity, that to regard them and the world to which they relate as delusory, would be to leave ourselves without ground for belief in the genuineness of any experiences, or of any world whatsoever. It is not, however, upon testimony merely personal or extrinsic that the appeal on behalf of this book is rested, but upon that which is intrinsic, and capable of appreciation by all who have intelligent cognition of the subjects concerned.
Especially is this book designed to meet the peculiar circumstances of the times, – so aptly described by Mr. Matthew Arnold when he says that “at the present moment there are two things about the Christian religion which must be obvious to every percipient person; one, that men cannot do without it; the other, that they cannot do with it as it is.” In an age distinguished, as is the present, by all-embracing research, exhaustive analysis, and unsparing criticism, no religious system can endure unless it appeals to the intellectual as well as to the devotional side of man’s nature. At present the faith of Christendom is languishing on account of a radical defect in the method of its presentation, through which it is brought into perpetual conflict with science; and the harassing and undignified task is imposed on its supporters of an incessant endeavour to keep pace with the advances of scientific discovery, or the fluctuations of scientific speculation. The method whereby it is herein endeavoured to obviate the suspense and insecurity thus engendered, consists in the establishment of these two positions:
(1) That the dogmas and symbols of Christianity are substantially identical with those of other and earlier religious systems; and
(2) That the true plane of religious belief lies, not where hitherto the Church has placed it, – in the sepulchre of historical tradition, among the dry bones of the past; but in the living and immutable Heaven, to which those who truly desire to find the Lord must in heart and mind ascend. “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here; He is risen.” This is to say, the true plane of religious belief is not the objective and physical, but the subjective and spiritual.
It is true that many men renowned for piety and learning, pillars – accounted – of the faith, have denounced as in the highest degree impious the practice of what they call, “wresting Scripture from its obvious meaning.” But their denunciation of impiety includes not only the chief of those “lesser lights,” the Christian Fathers and Jewish Commentators, but also those “two great lights,” Jesus and Paul, seeing that each of these affirmed the mystic sense of Scripture, and the duty of subordinating the Letter to the Spirit and seeking within the veil for the meaning. The fact is, that in their use of the term “obvious,” the literalists beg the questions involved. Those questions are, – To what faculty is the sense of Scripture obvious, – to the outer or the inner perception? and, – To which of these two orders of perception does the apprehension of spiritual things belong? Nothing, assuredly, can be more obvious than the “impiety” of setting aside the account which Holy Writ gives of itself, and ascribing to it falsehood, folly, or immorality, on the strength of outward appearance, such as is the letter. To those whom this volume represents, it is absolutely obvious that the literal sense is not the sense intended; and that they who insist upon that sense incur the reproach cast by Paul when, referring to the veil which Moses put over his face, he says: “For their minds were blinded; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth unlifted. Even unto this day the veil is upon their hearts.”
We will endeavour briefly to exhibit the principles of this conclusion. The first lesson to be learnt in the school of philosophy is the truth that the mind can apprehend and assimilate that only which presents itself mentally. In other words, the objective must be translated into the subjective before it can become pabulum for the spiritual part of man. Truth is never phenomenal, but always metaphysical. The senses apprehend and are concerned with phenomena. But the senses represent the physical part only of man, and not that selfhood which the philosopher intends when he speaks of Man. This, the true ego cannot come into relation with, or take account of, events and persons which present themselves phenomenally and objectively only. Thus, they are but vehicles and symbols by which truths, principles, and processes are conveyed to the subjective apprehension, – the hieroglyphs, so to speak, in which these are portrayed. Belonging to time and to matter, persons and events are, – in their phenomenal aspect, – related only to the exterior and perishable man; while principles and truths, being noumenal and eternal, are cognizable only by that in man which, being also noumenal and eternal, is of like nature with them, namely, his subjective and spiritual part. For the apprehender and that which is apprehended must belong to the same category. And as the former is, necessarily, the purely rational principle in man, the latter also must be purely rational. For this reason, therefore, in order to maintain its proper spirituality, religion must always – as Schelling points out, – present itself esoterically in universals and in mysteries. Otherwise, being dependent for its existence upon the continuance of an environment merely physical and sensible, it becomes as evanescent as is this. From which it follows that so long as we regard religious truth as essentially constituted of and dependent upon causes and effects appertaining to the physical plane, we have not yet grasped its real nature, and are spiritually unconscious and unilluminate. That which is true in religion is for spirit alone.
The necessary subjectivity of truth was affirmed also by Kant, who regarded the historical element in Scripture as indifferent, and declared that the transition of the Creed into a purely spiritual faith would be the coming of the kingdom of God. Similarly the mystic Weigelius (A.D. 1650) says that in order to be efficacious for salvation, that which is divinely written concerning the Christ on the objective plane must be transferred to the subjective plane and substantialized in the individual, being interiorly enacted by him. And the pious and learned translator of the Hermetic books, Doctor Everard, writes: – “I say there is not one word (of Scripture) true according to the letter. Yet I say that every word, every syllable, every letter is true. But they are true as He intended them that spake them; they are true as God meant them, not as men will have them.” (Gospel Treasury Opened, A.D. 1659).
The reason is that matter and its attributes constitute but the middle term in a series, the Alpha and Omega of which are spirit. The world of ultimate effects, like that of ultimate causes, is spiritual; and no finality can belong to the plane of their middle term, this being a plane only of transition. The absolute is, first, pure, abstract thought. It is, next, a heterization of that thought by disruption into the atomism of time and space, or projection into nature, a process whereby, from being non-molecular, it becomes molecular. Thirdly, it returns from this condition of self-externalization and self-alienation back into itself, resolving the heterization of nature, and becoming again subjective and – as only thus it can become – self-cognizant. Such – as formulated by Hegel – is, under manifestation, the process of universals; and such is, necessarily, the process also of particulars, which are the product of universals. Wherefore man, as the microcosm, must imitate, and identify himself with, the macrocosm, and subjectivize, or spiritualize, his experience before he can relate it to that ultimate principle of himself which constitutes the ego, or selfhood.
Such a view of religion as this, however, is obviously incomprehensible save by the educated and developed: its terms and its ideas alike being beyond the capacity of the generality. This book, therefore, and the work which it inaugurates, are addressed to the former class; – to persons of culture and thought, who, recognizing the defects of the popular belief, have abandoned, as hopeless, the attempt to systematize it and to relate it to their mental needs. There never can be one presentation of religion suited equally to all classes and castes of men; and the attempt of the Church to compass this impossibility has, of necessity, resulted in the alienation of those who are unable to accept the crude, coarse fare dealt out to the multitude. Enacting the part of a Procrustes in respect of things spiritual, she has tried to fit to one measure minds of all kinds and dimensions, in total disregard of the apostolic dictum: – “We speak wisdom among the full-grown. . But not unto you as unto the spiritual, but as unto the carnal, unto babes in Christ, feeding you with milk, not with meat, being not yet able to receive it.”
For these, then, – the uninstructed and undeveloped, – the Church must continue to speak with veiled face, in parable and symbol. Our appeal is to those who, having attained their intellectual and spiritual majority have put away childish things, and who, accordingly, – instead of being content with the husk of the letter, and ignoring the spirit for the form, or limiting it by the form, – are impelled by the very necessity of their nature to seek behind the veil and to read the spirit through the form, that “with unveiled face they may behold the glory of the Lord, and be transformed into the same image.” They who are thus ripe will in these pages learn what is the Reality which only Mind can apprehend; and will understand that it belongs not to the objective and phenomenal plane of mundane history, but to the subjective and noumenal plane of their own souls, where seeking they will find enacted the process of Fall, Exile, Incarnation, Redemption, Resurrection, Ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and – as the sequel – the attainment of Nirvana, the “peace that passeth understanding.” For those thus initiated the mind is no longer concerned with history; the phenomenal becomes recognized as the illusory, – a shadow projected by the Real, having no substance in itself, and an accident only of the real. One thing is and abides, – the Soul in man, – Mother of God, immaculate; descending – as Eve – into matter and generation; assumed – as Mary – beyond matter into life eternal. One state, supreme and perfect, epitomizes and resolves all others; – the state of Christ, promised in the dawn of evolution; displayed in its process; glorified at its consummation. To realize the assumption of Mary, to attain to the stature of her Son, – these ends and aspirations constitute the desire of the illuminate. And it is in order to indicate them anew and the method of seeking them intelligently, that this book is written.
This preface may – it seems to us – fittingly conclude with a token of the estimation The Perfect Way has won from persons specially qualified to judge it. The following is selected from numerous communications to the like effect, coming, not only from various parts of the world, but from members of various nationalities, races and faiths, and showing that our book is already accomplishing far and wide its mission as an Eirenicon.
The veteran student of the “divine science,” a reference to whom, as the friend, disciple, and literary heir of the renowned magian, the late Abbe Constant (“Eliphas Levi”), will be for all initiates a sufficient indication of his personality, thus writes to us: –
“As with the corresponding Scriptures of the past, the appeal on behalf of your book is, really, to miracles: but with the difference that in your case the miracles are intellectual ones and incapable of simulation, being miracles of interpretation. And they have the further distinction of doing no violence to common sense by infringing the possibilities of Nature; while they are in complete accord with all mystical traditions, and especially with the great Mother of these, – the Kabbala. That miracles, such as I am describing, are to be found in The Perfect Way, in kind and number unexampled, they who are the best qualified to judge will be the most ready to affirm.
“And here, apropos of these renowned Scriptures, permit me to offer you some remarks on the Kabbala as we have it. It Is my opinion, –
“(1) That this tradition is far from being genuine, and such as it was on its original emergence from the sanctuaries.
“(2) That when Guillaume Postel – of excellent memory – and his brother Hermetists of the later middle age – the Abbot Trithemius and others – predicted that these sacred books of the Hebrews should become known and understood at the end of the era, and specified the present time for that event, they did not mean that such knowledge should be limited to the mere divulgement of these particular Scriptures, but that it would have for its base a new illumination, which should eliminate from them all that has been ignorantly or wilfully introduced, and should reunite that great tradition with its source by restoring it in all its purity.
“(3) That this illumination has just been accomplished, and has been manifested in The Perfect Way. For in this book we find all that there is of truth in the Kabbala, supplemented by new intuitions, such as present in a body of doctrine at once complete, homogeneous, logical and inexpugnable.
“Since the whole tradition thus finds itself recovered or restored to its original purity, the prophecies of Postel, etc., are accomplished; and I consider that from henceforth the study of the Kabbala will be but an object of curiosity and erudition like that of Hebrew antiquities.
“Humanity has always and everywhere asked itself these three supreme questions: – Whence come we? what are we? whither go we?
Now, these questions at length find an answer, complete, satisfactory, and consolatory, in The Perfect Way. (This judgment is irrespective of the mode of presentation, for any defect in which the responsibility rests with ourselves.)
As the secrecy originally observed is, even were it still desirable, no longer practicable, we have added our names to the title-page.
PREFACEAccording to classical legend, the Goddess Athena had once for votary a fair virgin named Medusa, who, becoming vain of her beauty and weary of the pure service of the maiden Goddess, introduced folly and defilement into the very sanctuary of the Temple in which she was wont to worship. Thereupon a terrible fate overtook her. The beautiful face, which had been the cause of her fall, assumed an aspect so terrible as to blight and petrify all who looked upon it; her tresses, once the chief object of her pride: were changed into vipers: and the hands which had ministered to heaven became as the talons of a bird of prey. Thus transformed into a Gorgon, she brought forth monsters, and for a time devastated the earth. At length the hero Perseus, “Son of God,” commissioned by Athena and Hermes, and armed by them with wings and sword and shield, slew the terrible creature, and smote off her venomous head. This exploit, – itself fraught with great perils, – was followed by the achievement of another not less difficult. Andromeda, daughter of the Aethiopian king, being doomed to become the prey of a dragon which long had ravaged her father’s coasts, was already chained to a rock on the seashore and on the point of being devoured, when Perseus, – divinely guided to the scene of the intended sacrifice – vanquished the Dragon and delivered the princess. And, having won her love and espoused her, the son of Zeus bore her away from her father’s kingdom into heaven, to shine forever beside him, redeemed, immortal, and glorious.
Now the names Medusa and Andromeda have a common root, and signify respectively “guardian” or “house” of Wisdom, and “the ruler” or “helpmeet” of Man. They are thus typical names, the first of the Church, the second, of the Soul. And the two myths of which their bearers are the heroines, together constitute a prophecy, – or perpetual verity, – having special application to the present epoch. Medusa is that system which, – originally pure and beautiful, the Church of God and the guardian of the Mysteries, – has, through corruption and idolatry, become “the hold of every unclean thing,” and the mother of a monstrous brood. And, moreover, like the once lovely face of Medusa, the Doctrine which bore originally the divine impress and reflected the Celestial Wisdom Herself, has become through the fall of the Church converted into Dogma so pernicious and so deadly as to blight and destroy the reason of all who come under its control. And the Perseus of the myth is the true Humanity, – earth born indeed, but heaven begotten, – which endowed by Wisdom and Understanding, with the wings of Courage, the shield of Intuition, and the sword of Science, is gone forth to smite and destroy the corrupt Church and to deliver the world from its blighting influence. But it is not enough that the Gorgon be slain. A task yet greater and more glorious awaits achievement. Andromeda, the Soul, the better part of Man, is on the point of being devoured outright by the baleful dragon of Negation, the agent of the lower nature, and the ravager of all the hopes of mankind. Her name, – identical with the terms in which is described the first Woman of Hebrew story, – indicates her as the helpmeet and ruler of man; her parentage denotes the origin of the Soul from the astral Fire or Aether, signified by the land of Aethiopis; the brazen fetters with which she is bound to the rock, typify the present bondage of the Divine in man to his material part; and her redemption, espousal, and exaltation by the hero Perseus, prefigure the final and crowning achievement of the Son of God, who is no other than the Spiritual Manhood, fortified and sustained by Wisdom and Thought. Of no avail against the monster which threatens to annihilate the Soul, are the old devices of terrorism, persecution, and thraldom by which the corrupt Church sought to subjugate mankind to her creed. The Deliverer of the Soul must be free as air, borne on the wings of a Thought that knows no fear and no restraint, and armed with the blade, two-edged and facing every way, of a knowledge potent alike for attack and defence. And he must be wise and free in every sense, bent, not on destruction merely, but on salvation likewise, and his sword must be as apt to smite the fetters from the limbs of Andromeda, as to deal the stroke of death to the Gorgon. It is not enough that he carry to Olympus the dead Medusa’s head; he must bear thither also a living Bride. His mission is not only to satisfy the Mind but to content the Heart. The Intellect, –the “Man,” – it is, who handles the sword of the liberator; and the Intuition, –the “Woman,” – it is, who weaves and constructs. But for her labour his prowess would be vain, and his deeds without goal or reward. The hero brings home spoils to the tent, and hangs up his shield and spear by the hearth-fire. All honour to the warrior, alike as iconoclast, as scientist, as purifier of the earth. His work, however, is but initiatory, preparing the way and making the path straight for Her who carries neither torch nor weapon of war. By her is the intellect crowned; by her is humanity completed; in her the Son of Zeus finds his eternal and supreme reward; for she is the shrine at once of divinest Wisdom and of perfect Love.
It is thus evident that classical story, identical in substance with the allegorical prophecies of Hebrew and Christian scripture, exhibits the work of the Saviour or Liberator, as having a twofold character. Like Zeus, the Father of Spirits, whose son he is, the Reason is at once Purifier and Redeemer. The task of Destruction accomplished, that of Reconstruction must begin. Already the first is well-nigh complete, but as yet no one seems to have dreamed of the last as possible. The present age has witnessed the decline and fall of a system which, after having successfully maintained itself for some eighteen centuries against innumerable perils of assault from without, and of faction from within, has at length succumbed to the combined arms of scientific and moral criticism. But this very overthrow, this very demolition, creates a new void, to the existence of which the present condition of the world and the apprehensions and cravings everywhere expressed, bear ample testimony. On all sides men are asking themselves, “Who will show us any good?” To whom or to what, if the old system be fallen, shall we turn for counsel and salvation from Doom? Under what roof shall we shelter ourselves if the whole Temple be demolished, and “not one stone be left upon another that shall not be thrown down”? What way shall we take to Zion, if the old road be buried beneath the avalanche? Agnosticism and Pessimism have seized upon the best intellects of the age. Conscience has become eclipsed by self-interest, mind obscured by matter, and man’s percipience of his higher nature and needs suppressed in favour of his lower. The rule of conduct among men is fast becoming that of the beast of prey: – self before all, and that the earthly, brutish, and ignoble self. Everywhere are the meaning and uses even of life seriously called in question; everywhere is it sought to sustain humanity by means which are in themselves subversive of humanity; everywhere are the fountains of the great deep of human society breaking up, and a deluge is seen to be impending, the height, extent, and duration of which no one can forecast. And nowhere yet is discernible the Ark, by taking refuge in which mankind may surmount and survive the flood.
Nevertheless this Ark so anxiously looked for, this Way so painfully sought, this work of Reconstruction so sorely needed, are all attainable by man. The certainty of their attainment is involved in the nature itself of existence, and ratified in every expression given to the mysteries of that nature from the beginning of the world.
The prime object of the present work is, then, not to demolish, but to reconstruct. Already the needful service of destruction has been widely and amply rendered. The old Temple has been thrown down and despoiled, and the “children of Israel” have been carried away captive to “Babylon,” – the mystic name of the stronghold of Materialism. As it is written; “The vessels of the House of the Lord” – that is, the doctrines of the Church – “great and small, and the treasures of the Temple, and of the King, and of the princess, were carried away to Babylon. And the enemies set fire to the House of God; and broke down the wall of Jerusalem,” – that is, the Soul, – “and burnt all her towers, and whatsoever was precious they destroyed.”
It is now time for the fulfilment of the second and last act of the prophetical drama; – “Thus saith Cyrus,” – that is KurioV the Lord, the Christ; – “All the kingdoms of the earth hath the God of heaven given me, and He hath charged me to build Him again a House in Jerusalem.” “Who is there of you, who will go up and build again the Temple of the Lord God of Israel?”
In these words is expressed the intention of the writers of this book. And if they have preferred to withhold their names, it is neither because they distrust the genuineness of their commission or the soundness of their work, nor because they shrink from the responsibility incurred; but in order that their work may rest upon its own merits and not upon theirs, – real or supposed; – in order, that is, that it may be judged and not prejudged one way or the other. Such reservation is in accordance with its whole tenor. For the criterion alone to which appeal is made on its behalf is the Understanding, and this on the ground that it is contrary to the nature of Truth to prevail by force of authority, or of aught other than the understanding; since Truth – how transcendent so ever it be – has its witness in the Mind, and no other testimony can avail it. If truth be not demonstrable to mind, it is obvious that man, who is essentially mind, and the product of mind, cannot recognize or appropriate it. What is indispensable is, that appeal be made to the whole mind, and not to one department of it only.
In this book no new thing is told; but that which is ancient – so ancient that either it or its meaning has been lost – is restored and explained. But, while accepting neither the presentations of a conservative orthodoxy, nor the conclusions of a destructive criticism, its writers acknowledge the services rendered by both to the cause of Truth. For, like the Puritans, who coated with plaster and otherwise covered and hid from view the sacred images and decorations which were obnoxious to them, orthodoxy has at least preserved through the ages the symbols which contain the Truth, beneath the errors with which it has overlaid them. And criticism, however fiercely infidel, has, by the very act of destruction, cleared the way for rebuilding. It has fulfilled the man’s function, – that of analysis, and made possible the woman’s, – that of synthesis. And this is according to the Divine order.
In both nature and method, therefore, this book is mainly, interpretative, and, consequently, reconciliatory. And it is this, not only in respect of the Hebrew, Christian, Oriental, and Classic systems in particular, but in respect also of modern thought and human experience in general. It aims at making at-one-ment between Mind and Heart by bringing together Mercy – that is, Religion – and Truth – that is, Science. It seeks to assure man that his best and most powerful friends on every plane are Liberty and Reason, as his worst enemies are Ignorance and Fear; and that until his thought is free enough and strong enough to bear him aloft to “heaven,” as well as to “the lowermost parts of the earth,” he is no true Son of Hermes, whose- typical name is Thought, and who yet is, in his supremest vocation, the Messenger and Minister of God “the Father.”
ARGUMENT AND CONTENTS.
PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION PREFACE
LECTURE THE FIRST
PART 1 Purpose of this book; to supply the existing need of a perfect system of thought and life by one founded in the nature of existence. This not a new invention, but a recovery of the original system which was the basis of all religions. Its recovery due to the same means by which it was originally received, namely, the Intuition, which represents the knowledges acquired by the Soul in its past existences, and complements the intellect, being itself quickened and enhanced by illumination of the Spirit. Revelation a proper prerogative of man, belonging to him in virtue of his nature and constitution, and crowning the reason. God, the supreme Reason. The Understanding, the “Rock” of the true Church. Illustrations of Method, classic and rabbinical. Sketch of Doctrine. Spirit and Matter: their nature, relations, and essential identity. Existence and Being. The Kalpa, Sabbath, and Nirvana, Divinity of Substance: its unity and trinity, and mode of individualization and development. The true doctrine of creation by evolution; found in all religions, as also that of the progression and migration of Souls; personal and historical testimony to its truth; recognized in Old and New Testaments. Rudimentary man. The Sphinx.
PART II. Relation of the system recovered to that in possession. The true heir. Religion, being founded in the nature of existence, is necessarily non-historical, independent of times, places, and persons, and appeals perpetually to the mind and conscience. Objections anticipated. Persistency of religious ideas due to their reality. The apparently new not necessarily really new. Christianity not exempt from the influences which caused the deterioration of Judaism. Its future development by means of new revelation foretold by its Founder. Need of such new revelation to preserve, not only religion, but humanity from extinction. The “man of sin” and “abomination that maketh desolate.” Substitution of Gospel of Force by Gospel of Love. One name whereby is salvation, but many bearers. The Christs.
LECTURE THE SECOND.
THE SOUL; AND THE SUBSTANCE OF EXISTENCE.
PART I. The Soul, universal or individual, the supreme subject and object of culture; the essential self, to know which is the only wisdom, involving the knowledge of God. Mysticism or Spiritualism, and Materialism, the doctrines respectively of Substance or Spirit, and of phenomenon. Matter a mode or condition of Spirit, and indispensable to its manifestation. The object of all religion and subject of all revelation the redemption of Spirit from Matter. Necessity to creation of the idea of a No-God. The ascent from Nature’s Seeming to God’s Being. The recovered system and Materialism respectively as Phoebus and Python.
PART II. The Soul as individual, its genesis and nature: the divine idea, eternal in its nature, but perishable if uninformed of the Spirit. The “Fire of the hearth:” the Divine breath. Convergence and divergence: the celestial Nirvana, and that of annihilation. The end of the persistently evil. The planet and its offspring. The fourfold nature of existence, alike in macrocosm and microcosm, due to differentialities of polarization of original substance.
PART III. The Soul as individual, its history and progress: commencing in the simplest organisms, it works upwards, moulding itself according to the tendencies encouraged by it; its final object to escape the need of a body and return to the condition of pure Spirit. Souls various in quality. The parable of the Talents.
PART IV. Of the nature of God; as Living Substance, One; as Life and Substance, Twain; the Potentiality of all things; the absolute Good, through the limitation of whom by Matter comes evil. Subsists prior to creation as Invisible Light. As Life, God is He; as Substance, She; respectively the Spirit and Soul universal and individual; the Soul the feminine element in man, having its representative in woman. God the original, abstract Humanity. The seven Spirits of God. “Nature.” The heavenly Maria, her characteristics and symbols. As Soul or Intuition, she is the “woman” by whom man attains his true manhood; The defect of the age in this respect. No intuition, no organon of knowledge. The Soul alone such organon.
PART V. Divine Names, denotative of characteristics. Function of religion to enable man to manifest the divine Spirit within him. Man as an expression of God. The Christs, why called Sun gods. The Zodiacal planisphere a Bible or hieroglyph of the Soul’s history. Bibles, by whom written. The “Gift of God”.
LECTURE THE THIRD.
THE VARIOUS ORDERS OF SPIRITS; AND HOW TO DISCERN THEM.
PART I. The sphere of the astral, its four circuli and their respective occupants. The Shades; purgatory; “hell;” “devils;” “the Devil;” possession by devils; “souls in prison;” “under the elements;” spirits of the elements, subject to the human will; souls of the dead; the anima bruta and anima divina. Metempsychosis and reincarnation; conditions of the latter; descent to lower grades; cause of the Soul’s loss.
PART II. The astral or magnetic spirits by which, ordinarily, “mediums” are “controlled;” reflects rather than spirits; difficulty of distinguishing them from Souls; elements of error and deception; delusive character of astral influences; their characteristics; danger of a negative attitude of mind; necessity of a positive attitude for Divine communication; spirits elemental and elementary; genii loci; cherubim.
PART III. The sphere of the celestial; the procession of Spirit; the triangle of life; the Genius or guardian angel, his genesis, nature, and functions; the Gods, or Archangels.
LECTURE THE FOURTH.
PART I. This the central doctrine of religion, and, like the Cosmos, fourfold in its nature. What the doctrine is not; its corruption by materialism; priestly degradation of the character of Deity. The Bible represents the conflict between prophet and priest, the former as the minister of the intuition, and the latter as the minister of sense.
PART II. The occult side of the sacrificial system. Effusion of blood efficacious in the evocation of subhuman spirits, as shown by various examples. These spirits visible in the fume of the sacrifices. Astral spirits personate the celestials. Abhorrence of the true prophet for bloodshed, illustrated in Buddha’s rebuke to the priests. The orthodox doctrine of vicarious atonement, a travesty due to astral spirits, of the true doctrine. Pernicious effects of the use of blood (or flesh) for food; impossibility, on such diet, of attaining full perception of divine truth.
PART III. Antiquity and universality of the Cross as the symbol of Life physical and spiritual. Its application to the doctrine of the Atonement fourfold, having a separate meaning for each sphere of man’s nature. Of these meanings the first is of the physical and outer, denoting the crucifixion or rejection of the Man of God by the world. The second is intellectual, and denotes the crucifixion or conquest by man of his lower nature. The third, which refers to the Soul, implies the passion and oblation of himself, whereby the man regenerate obtains the power – by the demonstration of the supremacy of spirit over Matter – to become a Redeemer to others. The fourth appertains to the Celestial and innermost, and denotes the perpetual sacrifice of God’s Life and Substance for the creation and salvation of His creatures. The pantheistic nature of the true doctrine.
LECTURE THE FIFTH.
THE NATURE AND CONSTITUTION OF THE EGO.
PART I. Psyche as the Soul and true Ego the result of Evolution, being individualized through Matter.
PART II. Man’s two personalities. Karma or the results of past conduct and consequent destiny. The soul essentially immaculate.
PART III. The Ego more than the sum total of the consciousnesses composing the system, as representing these combined and polarized to a higher plane. The Psyche alone subjective and capable of knowledge.
PART IV. The Shade, the Ghost, and the Soul; their respective natures and destinies.
PART V. The anima Mundi, or Picture-World. The soul of the planet, like that of the individual, transmigrates and passes on.
PART VI. The Evolution of the Ego, and therein of the Church of Christ, implied in the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the B. V. M.
LECTURE THE SIXTH.
THE FALL ( 1 )
PART I. The first Church; its type the Kaabeh, or cube, denoting sixfoldness; dates from “Paradise.” The Merkaba, or vehicle of God, drawn by the four elements. The four rivers of Eden. Allegorical character of the Mystic Scriptures; how recovered by Esdras; their origin and corruption.
PART II. The parable of the Fall: its signification fourfold, being one for each sphere of existence; the first, physical and social.
PART III. The second signification rational and philosophical; the third, psychical and personal.
PART IV. The fourth signification spiritual and cosmical. The Restoration implied in the Sabbath, and prophesied in the Zodiac, and in the arms of Pope Leo XIII
PART V. A new Annunciation.
LECTURE THE SEVENTH.
THE FALL ( 2 )
PART I. Interpretation of Scripture dual, intellectual and intuitional, or exterior and interior; the Soul as the woman, through whose aspiration to God man becomes Man in the mystic sense, and made in the image of God; and through whose inclination to Matter he falls from that image. As the fall is through loss of purity, so the Redemption is through restoration of purity.
PART II. The Soul’s history as allegorized in the books of Genesis and Revelation.
PART III. Source of errors of Biblical interpretation. The historical basis of the Fall. The Church as the Woman. Rise and Fall of original Church. A primitive mystic community. The source of doctrine, interior and superior to priesthoods.
PART IV. Nature and method of historical Fall. The three steps by retracing which the Restoration will come. Tokens of its approach.
LECTURE THE EIGHTH
PART I. The “great work” the Redemption of Spirit from Matter: first in the individual, next in the universal. Definition of mystic terms used to denote the process: “Passion,” “Crucifixion,” “Death,” “Burial,” “Resurrection,” “Ascension”.
PART II. The Man perfected and having power: the “philosopher’s stone,” and kindred terms; the Adept and the Christ: sense in which the latter may be called a medium for the Highest; not as ordinarily understood: the Hierarch or Magian, his qualifications and conditions.
PART III: Design of the Gospels to present perfect character of Man Regenerate; selection of Jesus as subject; Church’s failure of comprehension through loss of spiritual vision, due to materialism. Answer to objection; doctrine of Incarnation; perversion and explanation: method of Gospel symbolism; the miracles; cosmic order of Gospels.
PART IV. The Sacred Mysteries of Regeneration, celebrated in caves, labyrinths, and pyramids. The great pyramid a symbol of the Soul’s history; the six Crowns, or Acts of initiation: “Betrothal,” “Trial," “Passion,” “Burial,” “Resurrection,” and “Ascension.” The Cup of consummation; the divine Marriage: its three stages, how represented in the Gospels.
PART V. The Twelve Gates of the Heavenly Salem; the Tabernacle; the Round Table and its “bright Lord;” the Number of Perfection; the genealogy of the Man Regenerate; “Christ” no incarnate God or angel, but the highest human. The world’s present condition due to sacerdotal degradation of truth. Christian gospels represent later stages only of regeneration, the earlier ones having been exemplified in the systems of Pythagoras and Buddha. Christianity framed with direct reference to these, not to supersede but to complete them; Buddha and Jesus being necessary to each other, as head and heart of same system. Of these combined will be produced the Religion and Humanity of the future; hence the import of the connection between England and the East. “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The “Kings of the East,” and the “drying-up of the Euphrates.” The Transfiguration, a prophecy. The “Eastern Question;” its interior significance; the destiny of Islamism.
LECTURE THE NINTH.
GOD AS THE LORD; OR, THE DIVINE IMAGE.
PART I. The two modes of Deity; God as the Lord, in the Bible, the Kabbala, and the Bhagavad-gîtâ. Swedenborg and his doctrine: his limitations and their cause. The Hermetic doctrine. The “Mount of the Lord.” True meanings of “Mystery;” sacerdotal degradation of the term, and its evil results.
PART II. Function of the Understanding in regard to things spiritual. Its place in the systems human and divine. The “Spirit of Understanding,” his various names and symbols, and relation to the Christ. Cognate myths in illustration. Hermes as regarded by the Neo-Platonists and by modern Materialists. Mystic and Materialist, the feud between them. The School of Torturers. The “Mystery of Godliness,” according to Kabbala and Paul. The Pauline doctrine concerning Woman; its contrast with the doctrine of Jesus. Woman according to Plato, Aristotle, Philo, the Fathers, the Church, the Reformation, Milton, Islamism, and Mormonism.
PART III. Charges whereby it is sought to discredit the system of the Mystics; Plagiarism and Enthusiasm: the signification and value of the latter. Ecstasy: its nature and function. Mystics and Materialists, their respective standpoints. Conspiracy of modern science against the Soul. Materialists, ancient and modern, contrasted.
PART IV. Man’s perception of God sensible as well as mental. The Divine Unity, Duality, Trinity, and Plurality. The Logos, or Manifestor. The mystery of the human Facepp.
PART V. The Vision of Adonai.
PART VI. “Christ” as the culmination of Humanity and point of junction with Deity. The Credo of the Elect.
I. CONCERNING THE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE.
II. CONCERNING THE HEREAFTER.
III. ON PROPHESYING; AND A PROPHECY.
IV. CONCERNING THE NATURE OF SIN
V. CONCERNING THE “GREAT WORK,” AND THE SHARE OF CHRIST JESUS THEREIN.
VI. THE TIME OF THE END.
VII. THE HIGHER ALCHEMY.
VIII. CONCERNING REVELATION.
IX. CONCERNING THE POET.
X. CONCERNING THE ONE LIFE.
XI. CONCERNING THE MYSTERIES.
XII. HYMN TO THE PLANET-GOD.
XIII. FRAGMENTS FROM THE “GOLDEN BOOK OF VENUS.”
PART I. HYMN OF APHRODITE.
PART II. A DISCOURSE OF THE COMMUNION OF SOULS, AND OF THE USES OF LOVE BETWEEN CREATURE AND CREATURE.
XIV. HYMN TO HERMES
XV. THE SECRET OF SATAN
Fig. 1. THE CHERUBIM OF EZEKIEL AND THE APOCALYPSE.
Fig. 2. THE TABERNACLE IN THE WILDERNESS.
Fig. 3. SECTION OF THE GREAT PYRAMID OF GIZEH..
“And the Lord God said unto the serpent I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” – Gen. iii. 14, 15.
“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” – Apoc. xii. I.
LECTURE THE FIRST.
THE purpose of the Lectures, of which this is the first, is the exposition of a system of Doctrine and Life, at once scientific, philosophic, and religious, and adapted to all the needs and aspirations of mankind. This system is offered in substitution, on the one hand, for that traditional and dogmatic Conventionalism which, by its failure to meet the tests of science and to respond to the moral instincts, is now by thoughtful persons nearly or wholly discarded; and, on the other hand, for that agnostic Materialism which is rapidly overspreading the world to the destruction of all that is excellent in the nature of man.
2. But although offered in substitution both for that which experience has shown to be defective, and that which is so recent as to be only now in course of reception, the system to be proposed is not itself new; and its present exposition represents, not an Invention as ordinarily understood, but a Restoration. For, as will be shown indubitably, there has been in the world from the earliest ages a system which fulfils all the conditions requisite for endurance; a system which, being founded in the nature of Existence itself, is eternal in its truth and application, and needs but due understanding and observance to enable man by means of it to attain to the highest perfection and satisfaction he can by any possibility imagine or desire. And, as also will be shown, this system is no other than that which all the great religions of the world have, under various guises and with varying degrees of success, striven to express.
3. Our object, therefore, is to restore and to rehabilitate the Truth, by divesting it of all the many limitations, degenerations, perversions, and distortions to which throughout the ages it has been subjected; and by explaining the real meaning of the formulas and symbols which thus far have served rather to conceal than to reveal it. That which we shall propound, therefore, will be no new doctrine or practice; but that only which is either so old as to have become forgotten, or so profound as to have escaped the superficial gaze of modern eyes.
4. Now, in order to be entitled to a hearing in respect of a subject thus momentous and recondite, it is obviously necessary that the claimant should be able to plead some special qualification in the shape of de possession either of an exclusive source of information, or of an unusual faculty. Hence it becomes necessary to include in these introductory remarks an account of the qualification relied on in the present instance.
5. That which is thus claimed is at once a faculty and a source of information, and is, in these days, of rare though not novel occurrence. It is that mode of the mind whereby, after exercising itself in an outward direction as Intellect, in order to obtain cognition of phenomena, it returns towards its centre, as Intuition, and be ascertaining the essential idea of the fact apprehended through the senses, completes the process of its thought. And just as only by the combined and equal operation of the modes termed centrifugal and centripetal, of force, the solar system is sustained; so only by the equilibrium of the modes, intellectual and intuitional, of the mind, can man complete the system of his thought, and attain to certitude of truth. And as well might we attempt to construct the solar system by means of an exercise of force in one direction, the human system by means of one sex, or the nervous system by means of the motor roots only, as to attain to knowledge by means of one mode only of mind. It is, however, precisely in this manner that the materialistic hypothesis errs; and by its error it has forfeited all claim to be accounted a system.
6. The Intuition, then, is that operation of the mind whereby we are enabled to gain access to the interior and permanent region of our nature, and there to possess ourselves of the knowledge which, in the long ages of her past existences, the Soul has made her own. For that in us which perceives and permanently remembers is the Soul. And inasmuch as, in order to obtain her full development, she remains for thousands of years in connection, more or less close, with Matter, until, perfected by experience of all the lessons afforded by the body, she passes on the higher conditions of being; it follows that no knowledge which the race has once acquired in the past can be regarded as hopelessly lost to the present.
7. But the memory of the soul is not the only factor in spiritual evolution. The faculty which we have named the Intuition, is completed and crowned by the operation of Divine Illumination. Theologically, this illumination is spoken of as the Descent of the Holy Spirit, or outpouring of the heavenly efflux, which kindles into a flame in the soul, as the sun’s rays in a lens. Thus, to the fruits of the soul’s experience in the past, is added the “grace” or luminance of the Spirit; the baptism of Fire which, falling from on high, sanctifies and consummates the results of the baptism of Water springing from the earth. To be illumined by this inward Light, to be united with this abiding divinity, was ever the ardent aspiration of the seeker after God in all times and of all lands, whether Egyptian Epopt, Hindu Yogi, Greek Neoplatonist, Arab Sufi, or Christian Gnostic. By the last named it was styled the Paraclete and Revealer, by whom man is led into all truth. With the Hindu it was Atman, the All-seeing, not subject to rebirths like the soul, and redeeming from the vicissitudes of destiny. By the combined operation of this Light, and the enhancement it effects in the intuitions of the soul, – enabling her to convert her knowledge into wisdom, – the human race has been from age to age perpetually carried up to higher levels of its evolution, and will, in due course, be enabled to substantialize in itself and to be all that in the past it has known and desired of perfection.
8. These Lectures, then, represent the result of intuitional memory, quickened and enhanced, we believe, by some measure of the divine influx, and developed by the only mode of life ever found compatible with sound philosophic aspirations. And of the doctrine we seek to restore, the basis is the Pre-existence and Perfectibility of the Soul. The former, because, but for her persistence, progressive genesis, or gradual becoming, would be impossible. For development depends upon memory, and is the result of the intelligent application of knowledge gained by experience, in satisfaction of the needs of the individual; the sense of need being complemented by a sense of power.
And the Perfectibility; because, as a portion of the Divine Being – which is God – constituted of the Divine Substance and illumined by the Divine Spirit, she, the Soul, is necessarily capable of all that her nature implies; and competent to realize for the individuality animated by her, the injunction of the great Master of mystical science; “Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
9. It is necessary for the elucidation of our system to speak yet further of the constitution of man. Concerning this, our doctrine is that which has prevailed from the earliest times, and in all philosophical religions. According to this doctrine, man is possessed of a fourfold nature, a speciality which differentiates him from all other creatures. The four elements which constitute him are, counting from without inwards, the material body, the fluidic perisoul or astral body, the soul or individual, and the spirit, or divine Father, and life of his system. This last it is whose kingdom is described as the leaven taken by the woman, – the divine Sophia or Wisdom, – and hidden in three measures of meal, namely, the soul, the perisoul, and the body, until the whole is leavened; until, that is, the whole man is so permeated and lightened by it that he is finally transmuted into Spirit, and becomes “one with God.”
10. This doctrine of the fourfold nature of man, finds expression also in the Hebrew Scriptures, being symbolized by the four rivers of Eden – or human nature – flowing from one source, which is God; and by the four elemental living beings of Ezekiel, and their four wheels or circles, each of which denotes a region and principality or power. It has its correspondence also in the four interpretations of all mystical Scriptures, which are the natural, the intellectual, the ethical, and the spiritual; and also in the unit of all physical existence, the physiologic cell. For this, as the student of Histology knows, is composed, from without inwards, first of cell-membrane or capsule, which is not a separable envelope, but a mere coagulative sheathing of its fluidic part; secondly, of the protoplasmic medium; thirdly, of the nucleus, itself a mode of protoplasmic substance; and, lastly, of an element not present in all cells, and often when present difficult to perceive, namely, the nucleolus, or inmost and perfectly transparent element. Thus does man, as the Microcosm of the Macrocosm, exemplify in very detail of his system the fundamental doctrine of the famous Hermetic philosophy by which the expression of every true Bible is controlled, the doctrine, namely, of Correspondence. “As is the outer, so is the inner; as is the small, so is the great: there is but one law; and He that worketh is One. Nothing is small, nothing is great in the Divine Economy.”
11. In these words are contained at once the principle of the universe and the secret of the Intuition. She it is, the Divine woman of man’s mental system, that opens to him the “perfect way,” the “way of the Lord,” that “path of the just which, as a shining light, shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” And her complete restoration, crowning, and exaltation, is the one condition essential to that realization of the ideal perfection of man’s nature, which, mystically, is called “the Finding of Christ.”
12. Now, the modes whereby the intuition operates are two, namely, Perception and Memory. By the former, man understands and interprets; by the latter, he retains and utilizes. Perceiving, recollecting, and applying, the mind enacts for itself a process analogous to that which occurs in the physical organism. For its operations correspond to the three physiological processes of Nutrition, – prehension, digestion, and absorption.
13. When the uninitiated person, or materialist, denies positively, as, with curious inconsistency, such persons do deny, the possibility of positive knowledge, and declares that “all that we know is, nothing can be known,” he speaks truly so far as concerns himself and his fellows. “The natural man” as the apostle declares, “perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit, for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned. But the spiritual man judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.” While the two orders here indicated refer to the inner and outer, or soul and body, of each individual, they refer also to the two great divisions of mankind, – they who as yet recognize the body only, and they who are so far unfolded in their interior nature as to recognize the soul also. Of these last is the initiate of sacred mysteries. Following his intuition, such an one directs the force of his mind inwards, and, – provided his will is subordinated to and made one with the Divine will, – passes within the veil, and knows even as he is known. For, as the apostle says again, “What man knoweth the things of a man save the man himself? So, likewise, the things of God no man knoweth, save the Spirit of God within the man. And the Spirit knoweth all things and revealeth them unto the man.” As thus by means of our Divine part we apprehend the Divine, no such apprehension is possible to him who does not, in some degree, reflect the Divine image. “For if thine eye be evil, thy whole body is full of darkness. If, then, the very means of light in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
14. Matter is the antithetical ultimate of Spirit. Wherefore the enemy of spiritual vision is always Materialism. It is therefore by the dematerialization of himself that man obtains the seeing eye and hearing ear in respect of Divine things. Dematerialism consists, not in the separation of the soul from the body, but in the purification of both soul and body from the engrossment by the things of sense. It is but another example of the doctrine of correspondence. As with the vision of things physical, so with that of things spiritual. Purity alike of instrument and medium is indispensable to perception.
15. This, then, is the nature and function of the Intuition. By living so purely in thought and deed as to prevent the interposition of any barrier between his exterior and his interior, his phenomenal and his substantial self; and by steadfastly cultivating harmonious relations between these two, – by subordinating the whole of his system to the Divine central Will, whose seat is in the soul, – the man gains full access to the stores of knowledge laid up in his soul, and attains to the cognition alike of God and of the universe. And for him, as is said, “ There is nothing hid which shall not be revealed.”
16. And it is not his own memory alone that, thus endowed, he reads. The very planet of which he is the offspring, is, like himself, a Person, and is possessed of a medium of memory. And he to whom the soul lends her ears and eyes, may have knowledge not only of his own past history, but of the past history of the planet, as beheld in the pictures imprinted in the magnetic light whereof the planet’s memory consists. For there are actually ghosts of events, manes of past circumstances, shadows on the protoplasmic mirror, which can be evoked.
17. But beyond and above the power to read the memory of himself or of the planet, is the power to penetrate to that innermost sphere wherein the soul obtains and treasures up her knowledge of God. This is the faculty whereby true revelation occurs. And revelation, even in this its highest sense, is, no less than reason, a proper prerogative of man, and belongs of right to him in his highest and completest measure of development.
18. For placed as is the soul between the outer and the inner, mediator between the material and the spiritual, she looks inwards as well as outwards, and by experience learns the nature and method of God; and according to the degree of her elevation, purity, and desire, sees, reflects, and transmits God. It is in virtue of the soul’s position between the worlds of substance and of phenomenon, and her consequent ability to refer things to their essential ideas, that in her, and her alone, resides an instrument of knowledge competent for the comprehension of Truth even the highest, which she only is able to behold face to face. It is no hyperbole that is involved in the saying, “The pure in heart see God.” True, the man cannot see God. But the Divine in man sees God. And this occurs when, by means of his soul’s union with God, the man becomes “one with the Father,” and beholds God with the eyes of God.
19. That is not really knowledge which is without understanding. And the knowledge acquired by man through the soul, involves the understanding of all things apprehended. Now, to understand a thing, is to get intellectually into, beyond, and around it; to know the reasons of and for it; and to perceive clearly that it, and it only under the circumstances, is and could by any possibility be true. Apart from such knowledge and understanding, belief is impossible. For that is not belief, in any sense worthy of the term, which is not of knowledge. And only that belief saves which is conjoined with understanding. For the Rock on which the true Church is built, is the Understanding.
20. Such is the meaning of the words of Jesus on the memorable occasion of Peter’s confession of him. It was not to the man Simon that was applied the apostrophe, – “Thou art Peter, the rock, and upon this will I build my Church;” but to the eternal and immutable Spirit of Understanding, by means of which the disciple had “Found Christ.” Thus the utterance of Jesus had reference, not to the man, but to the Spirit who informed the man, and whom with his spiritual eyes the Master discerned.
21. We have said that the soul, with the eyes of understanding, looks two ways, inwards as well as outwards. It is interesting to remember that this characteristic of the soul was typified under the image of the two-faced divinity, Janus Bifron, or, as called by Plutarch, Iannos. Now Janus is the same as Jonas. Wherefore it is said that Simon, the expositor of the true doctrine, is the son of Jonas, meaning the Understanding. Janus is also the doorkeeper, as is Peter in Catholic tradition. And for this reason a door is called janua , and the first month or entrance of the year, January. Janus thus came to be regarded, like Peter, as the elder, the renewer of time, and the guardian of the outermost circle of the system, and one therefore with Saturn. And as the former was called Pater Janus, so the latter was called Peter Jonas, the Rock of Understanding. And he is represented, as also is Peter, standing in a ship, and holding in one hand a staff and in the other a key. By this is signified, that to the Understanding, born of the experiences of Time, belong the Rod of the Diviner, – or the power of the Will, – and the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Wherefore, the real chief of the apostles in the true Church, – that which by its knowledge of the mysteries of existence, alone can open the gates of eternal life, – is the Understanding.
22. The priesthoods, materializing, as is their wont, divine things, have applied the utterance of Jesus to the man Simon and his successors in office; but with the most disastrous consequences. For, ignoring the understanding, and putting asunder that which God has joined together, – Faith and Reason, – they have made something other than Mind the criterion of truth.
To this divorce between the elements masculine and feminine of man’s intellectual system, is due the prevailing unbelief. For, converted thereby into superstition, religion has been rendered ridiculous; and instead of being exhibited as the Supreme Reason, – God has been depicted as the Supreme Unreason. Against religion, as thus presented, mankind has done well to revolt. To have remained subject, had been intellectual suicide. Wherefore the last person entitled to reproach the world for its want of faith is the Priest; since it is his degradation of the character of God, that has ministered to unbelief. Suppressing the “woman,” who is the intuition, by putting themselves in her place, the priests have suppressed also the man, who is the intellect. And so the whole of humanity is extinguished. Of the influences under which Sacerdotalism has acquired its evil repute, a full account will appear as we proceed.
23. In these lectures, then, the practice denounced will be exchanged for the original method of all true Churches. And appeal will be made to that consensus of all the faculties, sensible, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, comprised in the constitution of man, wherein consists Common Sense. It is not upon any authority of book, person, tradition, or order, that we ourselves rely, or that we invite the attention of others. Reference will indeed be made, as already, to various sacred and other sources, but only for illustration, interpretation, or confirmation. For, confident in the knowledge that all things have their procession from Mind, and that consequently Mind is competent for the comprehension of all things; and also that Mind is eternally one and the same; – we have no fear of antagonism between the perceptions of the present and those of the past, however remote that past be. Only let it be remembered, the appeal is, in all cases, to perception, and in no case, to prejudice or convention. In proceeding from God, all things proceed from pure Reason; and only by Reason which, in being unwarped by prejudice and unobscured by Matter, is pure, can anything be rightly apprehended.
24. Hence it is that the disposition which refers everything, for instance, to a book, and this, perhaps, one arbitrarily selected from among many similar books; or that refuses to accept truth save on the authority of miracle, is a superstitious disposition, and one that opposes as insuperable a barrier to knowledge as does the materialism, – no less superstitious, – which, constructing an hypothesis independently of facts, rejects all evidence which conflicts with its hypothesis. It is precisely a materialism such as this which, in the recoil from superstition of one kind, has plunged the age headlong into superstition of another kind. For the cultus of the present day, – that of Matter, – is the most stupendous example of Fetish-worship the world has ever seen. But of this we shall have more to say further on. It is necessary here but to remind those who worship a book, that things are not true because they are in a Bible; but that they are in a Bible because previously recognized as true. And miracles, – which are natural effects of exceptional causes, – may indeed be proofs of occult power and skill, but are no evidence of the truth of any doctrine.
25. The following story from the Talmud will serve both to lighten our lecture and to illustrate our position in this respect:
“On a certain day, Rabbi Eliezer ben Orcanaz replied to the questions proposed to him concerning his teaching; but his arguments being found to be inferior to his pretensions, the doctors present refused to admit his conclusions. The Rabbi Eliezer said, ‘My doctrine is true, and this karoub tree, which is near us shall demonstrate the infallibility of my teaching.’ Immediately the karoub tree, obeying the voice of Eliezer, arose out of the ground and planted itself a hundred cubits farther off. But the Rabbis shook their heads and answered, ‘The karoub tree proves nothing.’ ‘What,’ cried Eliezer, ‘you resist so great a miracle? Then let this rivulet flow backwards, and attest the truth of my doctrine.’ Immediately the rivulet obeying the command of Eliezer, flowed backwards towards its source. But again the Rabbis shook their heads and said, ‘The rivulet proves nothing. We must understand before we can believe.’ ‘Will you believe me,’ said Rabbi Eliezer, ‘if the walls of this house wherein we sit should fall down?’ And the walls, obeying him, began to fall, until Rabbi Joshua exclaimed, ‘By what right do the walls interfere in our debates?’ Then the walls stopped in their fall out of respect to Rabbi Joshua, but remained leaning out of respect for Rabbi Eliezer, and remain leaning until this day. But Eliezer, mad with rage, cried out: ‘Then in order to confound you, and since you compel me to it, let a voice from heaven be heard!’ And immediately the Bath-Kol, or Voice from heaven, was heard at a great height in the air, and it said, ‘What are all the opinions of the Rabbis compared to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer? When he has spoken, his opinion ought to prevail.’ Hereupon Rabbi Joshua rose and said, ‘It is written, “The law is not in heaven; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” It is in your reason; for again it is written, “I have left you free to choose between life and death and good and evil.” And it is in your conscience; for “if ye love the Lord and obey His voice within you, you will find happiness and truth.” Wherefore then does Rabbi Eliezer bring in a karoub tree, a rivulet, a wall, and a voice to settle questions of doctrine? And what is the only conclusion that can be drawn from such miracles, but that they who have expounded the laws of nature have not wholly understood them, and that we must now admit that in certain cases a tree can unroot itself, a rivulet flow backwards, walls obey instructions, and voices sound in the air? But what connection is there between these observations and the teaching of Rabbi Eliezer? No doubt these miracles were very extraordinary, and they have filled us with astonishment; but to amaze is not to argue, and it is argument, not phenomena, that we require. When, therefore, Rabbi Eliezer shall have proved to us that karoub trees, rivulets, walls, and unknown voices afford us, by unusual manifestations, reasonings equal in value and weight to that reason which God has placed within us to guide our judgment, then alone will we make use of such testimonies and estimate them as Eliezer requires.’”
To the same purport the famous commentator, Maimonides, says, “When thy senses affirm that which thy reason denies, reject the testimony of thy senses, and listen only to thy reason.”
26. Having spoken of the Soul’s functions, and of her relation to man, we come now to speak of her nature and history. Whether of the individual or of the universal, Soul is Substance, that which sub-stands all phenomena. This substance is original protoplasm; at once that which makes and that which becomes. The first manifestation of substance is in the interplanetary ether, called by Homer the “Middle Air,” and known in the terminology of Occultism as the Astral Fluid. This, be it observed, is not soul, but that whereby soul is manifest, and in which it potentially subsists. Matter is the ultimate expression of substance, and represents that condition in which it is furthest removed from its original state, as the membranous capsule which forms the circumference of the physiologic cell represents the ultimate expression of the fluidic contents.
27. The soul may be likened to the nucleus of the cell. The protoplasmic medium which is found within the capsular envelope and in which the nucleus floats, may be likened to the astral fluid, whether interplanetary or intercellular. But the nucleus, the fluidic body surrounding it, and the exterior membrane, are all equally protoplasmic in nature, and the potentiality of one is in all; the difference actually observable among them being due only to difference of condition.
28. All the elements of the cell, however, – the nucleus included, – are material; whereas Matter itself is, whatever its kind, a mode of Substance, of which the nature is spiritual. But though Substance is, by its nature, Spirit, there is a sense in which Spirit is not Substance. This is the sense in which Spirit denotes will or energy, as distinguished from the Substance in which this inheres. Under impulsion of the Spirit as thus defined, Substance exchanges its static for a dynamic condition, repose for activity, becoming molecularized, and therefore materialized, in the process. It does not, however, cease to be Substance by becoming Matter; but Matter ceases to be Matter by cessation of motion. Matter may thus be defined as Substance in a state of incessant, intense activity, which is the condition of every particle in the universe. From the microscopic molecule to the planet everything revolves impelled by one force, and obeying one law.
29. The truth that Matter is Substance in its dynamic condition was well-known to the hierophants of ancient India and Egypt, and finds expression in the Hebrew sacred books, –which are Egyptian in origin, – in the phrase, – “And on the seventh day, God ended his work, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.”
This “resting” – which is not annihilation but repose, – involves the return of Matter to its static condition of Substance. The idea presented is that of cessation of active creative force, and the consequent return of phenomenal existence into essential being. This stage it is which constitutes the termination of the creative period, and the perfection of every creative work. It is at once the “rest which remains for the people of God;” the attainment of perfection by the individual, system, or race; and the return of the universe into the bosom of God, by re-absorption into the original substance. The Buddhist terms it Nirvana; and the period of which it is the termination is called by the Hindus, Kalpa, a word signifying Form. And they hold that the universe undergoes a succession of Kalpas, being at the end of each reabsorbed into Deity, Who then rests awhile prior to the next manifestation, reposing upon Sesha, the celestial “serpent,” or living circle of Eternity, the symbol of essential Being, as opposed to existence in its strict sense of manifested Being.
30. For, as will by-and-by be more fully shown, the substance of the soul, and therein of all things, and the substance of Deity, are one and the same; since there is but one Substance. And of this substance, the life is also called God, Who, as living Substance, is at once Life and Substance, one and yet twain, or two in one. And that which is begotten of these two, and is, theologically, called the Son, and the Word, is necessarily the expression of both, and is, potentially, the Universe, for He creates it after His own Divine image by means of the Spirit He has received. Now the Divine Substance is, in its original condition, homogeneous. Every monad of it, therefore, possesses the potentialities of the whole. Of such a monad, in its original condition, every individual soul consists. And of the same substance, projected into lower conditions, the material universe consists. It undergoes, however, no radical change of nature through such projection; but its manifestation – on whatever plane occurring – is always as is the evolution of its Trinity. Thus – to reckon from without inwards, and below upwards – on the plane physical it is Force, universal Ether, and their offspring the material World. On the plane intellectual it is Life, Substance, and Formulation. On the plane spiritual – its original point of radiation – it is Will, Wisdom, and the Word. And on all planes whatsoever, it is, in some mode, Father, Mother, and Child. For “there are Three which bear record in ‘heaven,’ or the invisible, and these Three are One. And there are three which bear record on ‘earth,’ or the visible, and these three agree in one, being Spirit, Soul, and Body.”
31. The soul’s entrance into Matter, and primal manifestation as an individual, occurs in the lowest modes of organic life, and is due to the convergence of the magnetic poles of the constituent molecules of some protoplasmic entity, an action due to the working of the Spirit in the Matter concerned. For all Matter, it must be remembered, has, and is, Spirit. The focusing of these poles gives rise to a circular magnetic current, of which the result is an electric combustion, which is the vital spark, organic life, Soul. It is, however, no new creation in the ordinary sense of the term. For nothing can be either added to or withdrawn from the universe. It is but a new condition of the one substance already existing, a condition which constitutes a fresh act of individualization on the part of that substance. It has become by self-generation, a soul or nucleus to the cell in which it has manifested itself. Such is the mode of operation of Substance, whether as manifested in the human soul or in the physiologic cell.
32. The doctrine of creation by development or evolution is a true doctrine, and is in no way inconsistent with the idea of divine operation; but the development is not of the original substance. Being infinite and eternal, that is perfect always. Development is of the manifestation of the qualities of that substance in the individual.
Development is intelligible only by the recognition of the inherent consciousness of the substance of existence. Of the qualities of that substance as manifested in the individual, Form is the expression. And it is because development is directed by conscious, experienced, and continually experiencing intelligence, which is ever seeking to eliminate the rudimentary and imperfect, that progression occurs in respect of Form. The highest product, man, is the result of the Spirit working intelligently within. But man attains his highest, and becomes perfect only through his own voluntary co-operation with the Spirit.
There is no mode of Matter in which the potentiality of personality, and therein of man, does not subsist. For every molecule is a mode of the universal consciousness. Without consciousness is no being. For consciousness is being.
33. The earliest manifestation of consciousness appears in the obedience paid to the laws of gravitation and chemical affinity, which constitute the basis of the later, evolved organic laws of nutritive assimilation. And the perception, memory, and experience represented in man, are the accumulations of long ages of toil and thought gradually advancing, through the development of the consciousness, from inorganic combinations upward to God. Such is the secret meaning of the old mystery story which relates how Deucalion and Pyrrha, under the direction of Themis (Wisdom) produced men and women from stones, and so peopled the renewed earth. These words of John the Baptist bear a similar signification: – “Verily I say unto you, that even of these stones God is able to raise up children unto Abraham.” And by children of Abraham, are denoted that “spiritual Israel,” the pure seekers after God, who finally attain and become one with the object of their quest.
34. As between Spirit and Matter, so between the organic and the inorganic, there is no real barrier. Nature works in spirals, and works intelligently. In all that modern science has of truth, in respect of the doctrine of Evolution, it was anticipated thousands of years ago. But the scientists of old, using a faculty of the very existence of which those of the present day hear but to jeer at it, discerned in Soul the agent, and in Mind, the efficient cause of all progress. They perceived, as all now perceive who only allow themselves to think, that were Matter, as ordinarily regarded, all that is, and blind force its impelling agent, no explanation would be possible of the obviously intelligent adaptation everywhere apparent of means to ends; the strong set of the current life in the direction of beauty and goodness; and the differentiation of uses, functions, and kinds, not only in cellular tissues, but even in crystalline inorganic elements. Why should Matter, if only what ordinarily it is supposed, – unconscious, aimless, purposeless, – differentiate, diversify, develop? This is the question the ancients asked themselves; and they were keen enough to see that in their very ability to ask it, lay the solution of the problem. For the question was prompted by Mind, and the presence of Mind in the product man, involves its presence in the substance whereof man consists, seeing that an extract cannot contain that which is not in its original abstract.
35. The reasonableness of this proposition is, however, at length beginning once again to be recognized even in the prevailing school, by some of the more intelligent of its members; one of these having recently declared it necessary, in order to account for the facts of existence, to credit Matter with a “little feeling.” (The late Professor Clifford.) This is an admission, which, carried to its legitimate issue, involves the recognition of the system now under exposition. For it involves the recognition of God and the Soul. Thus is modern science, painfully and against its will, working back towards the great doctrine taught long ages ago in the lodges of the Indian and Egyptian Mysteries, and verified by the spiritual experience of every epopt who lived the life prescribed as the condition of illumination.
36. This is the doctrine known as that of the Transmigration of Souls. Of this doctrine the following concise description is taken from a translation dated 1650 of one of the so-called Hermetic books, which emanating from Alexandria, and dating from pre-Christian or early Christian times, represent – at least in a measure – the esoteric doctrine of the Egyptian and other ancient religious systems. Of this body of writings only a few fragments survive. The passage cited is from book iv of the work called The Divine Pymander, or Shepherd, of Hermes Trismegistus.
“From one Soul of the Universe are all those Souls which in all the World are tossed up and down as it were, and severally divided. Of these Souls there are many Changes, some into a more fortunate Estate, and some quite contrary. And they which are of Creeping Things are changed into those of Watery Things, and those of Things Living in the Water to those of Things living on the Land; and Airy ones into Men; and Human Souls that lay hold of Immortality are changed into (holy) Daemons. And so they go on into the Sphere of the Gods. . . . And this is the most perfect glory of the Soul. But the Soul entering into the Body of a Man, if it continue evil, shall neither taste of Immortality nor be Partaker of the Good; but being drawn back the same Way, it returneth into Creeping Things. And this is the Condemnation of an evil Soul.”
37. The doctrine of the Progression and Migration of Souls, and of the power of man, while still in the body, to recover the recollections of his soul, constituted the foundation of all those ancient religions out of which Christianity had its birth; and was therefore universally communicated to all initiates of the sacred mysteries. And, indeed, one of the special objects of the curriculum of these institutions, was to enable the candidate to recover the memory of his previous incarnations, with a view to his total emancipation from the body. For the attainment of this power was regarded as a token that the final regeneration of the individual – when he would no longer have need of the body and its lessons – was well-nigh accomplished. Thus the prime object of the ancient lodges which constituted the pre-Christian Churches, was the culture of the soul as the divine and permanent element of the individual.
38. Various eminent sages are said to have remembered some at least of their previous incarnations; and notably Krishna, Pythagoras, Plato, Apollonius, and the Budha Gautama. This last – the “Messenger,” who fulfilled for the mystics of the East the part which six hundred years later was, for the mystics of the West, fulfilled by Jesus, – is stated to have recovered the recollection of five hundred and fifty of his own incarnations. And the chief end of his doctrine is to induce men so to live as to shorten the number and duration of their earth-lives. “He,” say the Hindu Scriptures, “who in his lifetime recovers the memory of all that his soul has learnt, is already a god.”
Socrates also is represented as distinctly asserting the doctrine of reincarnation; and it was implied, if not expressed in the system formulated by the superb modern thinker and scientist, Leibnitz.
39. Following the Rabbins and especially the Pharisees, Josephus asserted the return of Souls into new bodies. Nor are recognitions of the doctrine wanting in the Old and New Testaments. Thus the writer of the Book of Wisdom says of himself: “Being good, I came into a body undefiled.” The prophets Daniel and John are told by their inspiring angel that they shall stand again on the earth in the last days of the Dispensation. And of John it was also intimated by Jesus that he should tarry within reach of the earth-life, either for reincarnation or metempsychosis, when the appointed time should come. And of that great school which, apparently because it approached too near the truth to be safely tolerated by a materializing sacerdotalism, was denounced as the most dangerously heretical, – the school of the Gnostics, – the leader Carpocrates, taught that the Founder of Christianity also was simply a person who, having a soul of great age and high degree of purity, had been enabled, through his mode of life, to recover the memory of its past. And Paul’s description of him as a “Captain of Salvation made perfect through suffering,” obviously implies a course of experience far in excess of any that is predicable of a single brief career.
To these instances must be added that of the question put to Jesus by his disciples respecting the blind man whom he had cured: “Did this man sin, or his parents, that he was born blind?” For it shows either that the belief in transmigration was a popular one among the Jews, or that Jesus had inculcated it in his disciples. His refusal to satisfy their curiosity is readily intelligible on the supposition that he was unwilling to disclose the affairs of other souls.
40. The opening chapters of the Book of Genesis imply the like doctrine. For they present creation as occurring through a gradual evolution from the lowest types upwards, –from gaseous elemental combinations to the crowning manifestation of humanity in woman, –and thus indicate the animal as ministering to the human in a sense widely differing from that ordinarily supposed; for they represent the animal as the younger self of the man, namely, as man rudimentary. All this is involved in the fact that the term applied to the genesis of living things below man, signifies soul, (Heb., “NEPHESH”; i.e., the lowest mode of soul.) and is so translated when applied to man: whereas applied to beasts it is rendered “living creature.” Thus, had the Bible been accurately translated, the doctrine that all creatures whatsoever represent incarnations, though in different conditions, of one and the same universal soul, would not now need to be re-declared, or, when re-declared would not be received with repugnance. That it does produce such a feeling, is a sign how far man has receded from a level once attained, at least in respect of his affectional nature. For the doctrine of a universal soul is the doctrine of love, in that it implies the recognition of the larger self. It represents, moreover, Humanity as the one universal creation of which all living things are but different steps either of development or of degradation, progression or retrogression, ascent or descent; that which determines the present condition and ultimate destiny of each individual entity, being its own will and affections. Animals appeared first on earth, not, as is vainly supposed, to minister to man’s physical wants, but as an essential preliminary to humanity itself. On no other hypothesis is their existence intelligible for the long ages which elapsed before the appearance of man.
41. Thus, not only is the doctrine respectable for its antiquity, universality, and the quality and character of those who, on the strength of their own experience, have borne testimony to it; it is indispensable to any system of thought which postulates Justice as an essential element of Being. For it, and it alone of all methods ever suggested, solves the problem of the universe by resolving the otherwise insuperable difficulties which confront us in regard to the inequalities of earthly circumstance and relation.
The importance attached to it by the Egyptians is shown by the fact that they chose for their chief religious symbol an embodiment of it. For in representing the lowest as linked to the highest, – the loins of the creature of prey to the head and breast of the Woman, – the Sphinx denoted at once the unity, and the method of development, under individualization, of the soul of the universal humanity.
42. WE will now define more precisely the nature of the system we seek to restore, and its relation towards that so long in possession in the West. Although neither Christian nor Catholic in the accepted sense of these terms, it claims to be both Christian and Catholic in their original and true sense, and to be itself the lawful heir, whose inheritance has been usurped by a presentment altogether corrupt, false, superstitious, idolatrous.
According to the system recovered, the Christ Jesus, Redeemer, and Saviour, while equally its beginning, middle, and end, is not a mere historical personage, but, above and beyond this, a Spiritual Ideal and an Eternal Verity. Recognizing fully that which Jesus was and did, it sets forth salvation as depending, not on what any man has said or done, but on what God perpetually reveals. For, according to it, Religion is not a thing of the past, or of any one age, but is an ever-present, ever-occurring actuality; for every man one and the same; a process complete in itself for each man; and for him subsisting irrespective of any other man whatsoever. It thus recognizes as the actors in the momentous drama of the soul two persons only, the individual himself and God. And whereas in it alone is to be found a complete and reasonable exposition of the parts assigned to both in the work of salvation, all competing systems must be regarded as but an aspiration towards or a degeneration from it, and as true only in so far as they accord with it.
43. And here it may be remarked, that the doctrine of religion as a present reality, needing no historic basis, is one which in this age ought to find especial welcome. For, what now is the condition of men’s minds in respect to the historical element of the existing religion? None but those who through lack of education stand necessarily upon the old ways, have any reliance upon it. Critical analysis – that function of the mind which, in its nature destructive, is, nevertheless, really harmful only to that which, in being untrue, has not in itself the element of perpetuity – has laid an unsparing axe to the forest of ancient tradition. The science of Biblical exegesis has made it obvious to every percipient mind that sacred books, so far from being infallible records of actual events, abound with inaccuracies, contradictions, and interpolations; that sacred persons, if they existed at all, had histories differing widely from those narrated of them; that sacred events could not have occurred in the manner stated; and that sacred doctrines are, for the most part, either intrinsically absurd, or common to systems yet more ancient, whose claims to sanctity are denied.
44. Thus, to take the leading items of Christian belief, – the whole story of the Incarnation, the expectation of the Messiah, the announcement by the angel, the conception by the Virgin, the birth at midnight in a cave, the name of the immaculate mother, the appearance to shepherds of the celestial host, the visit of the Magi, the flight from the persecuting Herod, the slaughter of the innocents, the finding of the divine boy in the temple, the baptism, the fasting and trial in the wilderness, the conversion of the water into wine, and other like marvels, the triumphal entry into the holy city, the passion, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension, and much of the teaching ascribed to the Saviour, – all these are variously attributed also to Osiris, Mithras, Iacchos, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, and others, at dates long antecedent to the Christian era. And monuments and sculptures still exist, showing that the entire story of the Divine Man of the gospels was, long before Moses, taught to communicants and celebrated in sacraments in numberless colleges of sacred mysteries.
45. The Fathers of the Church, – who were well aware of these facts, – dealt with them variously according to the tone and resources of their individual minds. Many of the most notable, including St. Augustine, saw the truth in its proper light; but the explanation accepted was, that the Devil, foreknowing the counsel and intention of God, had maliciously forestalled the career of the true Messiah by false semblances, causing it to be enacted in anticipation by a number of spurious messiahs, so that when the world’s true redeemer should appear, he might be lost, as it were, in the crowd of his predecessors, and shorn of all particular glory.
46. And what, it may be asked, of the personage just mentioned, who plays so enormous part in the orthodox presentment? He, too, is a perversion of a truth, the real meaning of which will by-and-by be exhibited. It is sufficient to remark here, that, in being founded, – as by the current corrupt orthodoxy, – on the conception of a personal and, virtually, a divine principle of evil, Christianity is made to rest upon an hypothesis altogether monstrous and impossible.
47. There is neither space nor need to particularize the strictures to which the Bible throughout is fairly open, alike on grounds historical, moral, and scientific; or to speak of the many ecclesiastical Councils which, from century to century, have dealt with its component books, variously affirming or denying their canonicity; or to point out the innumerable contradictions and inconsistencies, of doctrine and of narrative with which it abounds. These things, already familiar to many, are readily verifiable by all. This only must be insisted on: to be a student of religion, to be a theologian in the true sense, it is necessary to have knowledge, not of one religion only, but of all religions, not of one sacred book only, but of all sacred books; and to deal with all as with the one, and with the one as with all; to handle the Vedas, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Lalita-Vistara, the Zend-Avesta, and the Kabbala with the same reverence as the Old and New Testaments; and to apply to these the same critical touchstone as to those. It is truth alone which is valuable, and this fears nothing. The crucible does not hurt the gold. The dross alone falls away under the test; and of the dross we are surely well rid.
48. And when all this has been done; when the mind, purified from prejudice and disciplined by experience, has become an instrument of knowledge competent for the discernment of truth, what, it will be asked, remains to man of his faith and hope, his God and his soul? We know the reply of the Materialist. He, as has been wittily said, throws away the child with the water in which it has been washed. Because he finds impurity obstructing the truth, he rejects the truth together with the impurity. That which remains is the real, ever-living religion; a Divine and operating Word, and not a testament of the dead; a God and a Soul who, as Parent and Offspring, are able to come into direct and palpable relations with each other. And the Creation, the Fall, the Redemption, and the Ascension – rescued from the tomb of the past – become living and eternal verities, enacted by every child of God in his own soul; and Inspiration once more lifts its voice and is heard among us as truly as of old.
49. For those, then, who, being indeed of Christ, as well as called by his name, know by personal experience that “the kingdom of heaven is within,” there is no cause for anxiety as to the issue of any investigation, critical, scientific, or historical, how keen and unsparing so ever For they know that Religion – which is the Science of Life Eternal, – appeals, not to the bodily senses, but to the soul, since no mere physical phenomena can have any relation to spiritual needs. They know, too, that in representing absolute, eternal verities, religious ideas are beyond the reach of any power of earth to erase or destroy them. But they who, on the contrary, have staked their all of faith in God and hope in heaven upon the special events of a particular period and place, have indeed ground for dismay and despair when they behold in the sculptured remains of other places and remoter times, the effigies of the like events, – the crucifixion of Mithras, the infant Horus or Krishna in the arms of an immaculate mother, the resurrection of Osiris, and the ascension of Heracles. For they see in these, the invalidation, or at least the perplexing multiplication, of events which, on their hypothesis, ought to have happened but once in the world’s – nay in the universe’s – whole history, and on the correct reporting of which their eternal welfare depends. The actual value of these facts will appear as we proceed. They are cited here in demonstration of the fallacy involved in the conception of religion as a thing dependent on history. Rightly interpreted, they will show that the Soul has no relation to phenomena, and that “the kingdom of Christ is not of this world.”
50. The Gospels bear evidence of being compiled or adapted in great measure from older Oriental Scriptures. But whether or not the events related happened only in part or not at all; whether they were put into their present form by Alexandrian Epopts some hundred years after the date assigned in them to the events they record; or whether their central figure, being himself an Initiate and Adept in the religious science of Egypt and India, actually rehearsed in his own person the greater part of the sacred mysteries, – is, happily, but of secondary importance. And even were it otherwise, it is obvious that the further we get away from the period of the events relied on, and the more years multiply upon us, thrusting that past into still remoter times and ever deepening shades of antiquity, the more difficult must the task of verification become, and the weaker the influences exerted upon man’s moral and intellectual nature. Alas for the hopes of the generations yet to be born, if an historical Christianity be indeed essential to salvation? Nor can we be blind to the injustice and cruelty of making salvation dependent upon belief in occurrences concerning which only a learned few can at any time be in a position to judge whether or not they ever took place; and these, moreover, occurrences of a nature to be a priori incredible save to an elect few. Assuredly, if any demonstration be needed of the necessary unsoundness of a system which rests upon history, it is to be found in the present condition of Christianity. Declining to entrust its doctrine to Reason, the Church has taken its stand upon historical evidence, only to find this give way under it; and it is now without any basis save that of Custom. The time has come in which Christians are Christians, only because they are accustomed to be Christians. Habit has superseded conviction.
51. Very different is the relation between the human mind and the system under exposition. Appealing to the understanding, and condemning as superstition the faith which is not also knowledge, this system meets unshaken the tests alike of time and of reason; and, so far from looking coldly on science, hails it as an indispensable ally, stipulating only that it be science, and not that which is “falsely so called.” Hoping everything and fearing nothing from the light of reason, it welcomes the searching ray into every recess, and greets with eager hands the philosopher, the historian, the critic, the philologist, the mathematician, the classic, the physicist, and the occultist. For its appeal is to intelligence as developed by knowledge, in the absolute assurance that where these exist in the greatest plenitude, there it will gain the fullest recognition.
52. And the intelligence appealed to is not the head only, but is also of the heart; of the moral conscience as well as of the intellect. Insisting upon the essential unity of all being, it admits of no antagonism between the human and the Divine. But holding that the human is the Divine, and that that which is not Divine is subhuman, it seeks, by the demonstration of the perfection of God, to enable man to perfect himself after the image of God. And it claims, moreover, to be the one philosophy wherein that image finds intelligent exposition, and whereby it obtains practical recognition. To the question why, being in all respects so admirable, it has become lost or perverted, the answer involves the history of man’s original Fall, and will in due course appear.
53. There are two or three classes of objectors, to whom reply will now be made in anticipation. Of these classes one is that which, under the influence of the prevailing Materialism, holds, that so far from the phrase just employed, “Image of God,” having any basis in reality, modern science has practically demonstrated the non-existence of God. If the following reply to this class involves a reference to regions of being as yet unrecognized in their own science, it is not upon us that the responsibility for the limitation rests. We speak of that which we know, having learned it by experience.
54. A true Idea is the reflect of a true Substance. It is because religious ideas are true ideas that they are common to all ages and peoples; the differences being of expression merely, and due to the variation of density and character of the magnetic atmosphere through which the image passes. The fact that every nation in every age has conceived, in some shape, of the Gods, constitutes of itself a proof that the Gods really are. For nothing projects no image upon the magnetic light; and where an image is universally perceived, there is certainly an object which projects it. An Idea, inborn, ineradicable, constant, which sophism, ridicule, or false science has power to break only, but not to dispel: – an image which, however disturbed, invariably returns on itself and reforms, as does the image of the sky or the stars in a lake, however the reflecting water may be momentarily shaken by a stone or a passing vessel: – such an image as this is necessarily the reflection of a real and true thing, and no illusion begotten of the water itself. In the same manner the constant Idea of the Gods, persistent in all minds in all ages is a true image; for it is verily, and in no metaphoric sense, the projection upon the human perception of the Eidola of the Divine persons. The Eidolon is the reflection a true object in the magnetic atmosphere; and the magnetic atmosphere is a transparent medium, through which the soul receives sensations. For sensation is the only means of knowledge, whether for the body or for the reason. The body perceives by means of the five avenues of touch. The soul perceives in like manner by the same sense, but of a finer sort and put into action by subtler agents. The soul can know nothing not perceptible; and nothing not perceptible is real. For that which is not can give no image. Only that which is can be reflected.
55. To the other classes of objectors, who are chiefly of the religious and orthodox order, the following considerations are addressed:
a. The apparently new, is not necessarily the really new; but may be a recovery – providential, timely, and precious – of the old and original which has been forgotten, perverted, or suppressed.
b. So far from it being incumbent on Christians to accept the established in religion as necessarily the true and the right, the condemnation by the later Hebrew prophets of the established form of Judaism, as no longer in their time representing the religion divinely given through Moses, imposes on Christians the duty of exercising, at the least, hesitation before accepting the established form of Christianity as faithfully representing the religion divinely given through Jesus. Christendom has been exposed for a far longer period than was Israel, to influences identical with those which caused the deterioration denounced by the prophets, namely, the abandonment of religion, without prophetic guidance or correction, to a control exclusively sacerdotal, and therein to Tradition uninterpreted by Intuition. And not only so, but on the first formal definition and establishment of Christianity under Constantine, – himself an ardent votary of a sun-worship become grossly materialistic, – the dominant conception was far more in accordance with the principles of sacerdotalism than with those of its Founder. There remains, also, the strong a priori improbability that a system identical with that which, in consequence of the efforts of Jesus to purify it, became his destroyer, – a system exclusively sacerdotal and traditional – should, even though calling itself Christian, prove a trusty guardian and faithful expositor of his doctrine.
c. The belief that Christianity was indeed divinely intended and adapted to effect the redemption of the world from engrossment by the elements merely material of existence, to the recognition and appreciation of its spiritual and true substance; and the fact that thus far Christianity has signally failed to accomplish that object, – make it in the highest degree obligatory on Christians, both to seek diligently the cause of such failure, and to seek it elsewhere than in an original defect of the religion itself.
d. According to numerous indications – including the express declarations of Jesus himself – much that is essential to the proper comprehension and practical application of Christian doctrine, was reserved for future disclosure. History has yet to record the full manifestation of that “Spirit of Truth,” who was to testify of Jesus, and lead his followers into all truth. And the world has still to see the Christ-ideal so “lifted up” and exhibited as, by force of its perfection as a system of life and thought, irresistibly to “draw all men” to it.
e. In point alike of character and of time, the present period coincides with that indicated in numerous prophecies, as appointed for the close of the old and the commencement of a new era. This is necessarily an event which can come about only through some radical change in the course of the world’s thought. For, in being, however unconsciously to it self, a product of Mind, the world always follows its thought. The world has now followed its thought in the direction of Matter and blind force, until, for the first time in man’s history, its recognized intellect has, almost with one consent, pronounced decidedly against the idea of God. This, therefore, is no other than that “time of the end” whereof the token should be the exaltation of Matter instead of Spirit, and the obtrusion into the “holy place” of God and the soul, of the “abomination that maketh desolate,” to the utter extinction of the world’s spiritual life and of the idea of a divine Humanity. Now is “that wicked one” and “man of sin” – that is, humanity deliberately self-made in the image of the Not-God – definitely revealed; and the gospel of Love is confessedly replaced by the gospel of Force. (It is not a little remarkable, that the foremost symbol of this new gospel should have for the name the Greek term for force; dynamite being simply dunamiz.) Of the prophecies, moreover, which referred to the period in question, it was declared that the words should be “closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” The very discovery of a true interpretation of mystical Scriptures would therefore constitute an indication that the “end is at hand.”
f. If it be, indeed, that man is not to “go down quick into the pit” that he has dug for himself, the emergency is one with which religion alone can grapple. But, so far from the religion already in the world being competent for the task, it has, by reason of its own degeneracy, ministered to the evil. Wherefore only by a religion which is not that now in vogue, can man be saved. Time can, of course, alone determine if, or by what means, the needed redemption will be wrought. Enough has been said to show that, from the religious point of view, there is ample reason in favour of according a serious hearing even to doctrines and claims so strange and unfamiliar to most persons as those herein advanced.
56. Finally, to close this Introductory Lecture, and to reassure those who, desirous to know more, are yet apprehensive of finding themselves in the issue, like the patriarch of old, robbed of their gods, we add this final reflection: – The end in view is not denial, but interpretation; not destruction, but reconstruction, and this with the very materials hitherto in use. No names, personages or doctrines now regarded as divine will be rejected or defamed. And even though the indubitable fact be recognized, that the “one name given under heaven whereby men can be saved” has been shared by many, that name will still be the name of salvation, and the symbol of its triumph will still be the cross of Jesus, even though borne before him by, or in the name of, an Osiris , a Mithras, a Krishna, a Dionysos, or a Buddha, or any others who, overcoming by love the limitations of Matter, have been faithful to the death mystically called the death of the cross, and, attaining thereby the crown of eternal life for themselves, have shown to men the way of salvation.
Instead, then, of indulging apprehension on the score indicated, let heed rather be given to the true moral of the story of all the Christs, how many so ever they be, by whom is enacted in its fullness, while yet in the body, the divine drama of the soul. For, with Christ, all may, in their degree, be redeemers alike of themselves and of others; and with him, to redeem, they must themselves first love and suffer and die. For, as said the German mystic, Scheffler, two centuries ago, –
“Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
But not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn:
The cross of Golgotha thou lookest to in vain,
Unless within thyself it be set up again.”
LECTURE THE SECOND
THE SOUL; AND THE SUBSTANCE OF EXISTENCE.
1. OUR theme is that which is at once the supreme subject and object of culture, and the necessary basis of all real religion and science. For it is the substance of existence, the Soul, universal and individual, of humanity. Only when we know the nature of this, can we know what we ourselves are, and what we have it in us to become. For our potentialities necessarily depend upon the substance whereof we are made.
2. This is not Matter. Wherefore a science which, in being restricted to the cognition of phenomena, is a materialistic science, cannot help us to an understanding of ourselves. But, on the contrary, to such understanding such science is, in its issues, the greatest enemy. Matter is not God: and in order to understand ourselves, it is necessary to understand God. God is the Substance of existence. Be that substance what it may, it still is God; and of God no other definition is possible or desirable, but all conditions are satisfied by it. To know God, then, is to know this substance; and to know this, is to know ourselves, and only by knowing this can we know ourselves.
3. Such, and no other or less, was the meaning of the famous mystic utterance inscribed on the temple porch at Delphi, – Know thyself, – a sentence which, notwithstanding its brevity, comprehends all wisdom. An attempt, it is true, has been made to improve upon it in the saying, – Ignore thyself, and learn to know thy God. By that which is intended in the latter, is, albeit unsuspected by its framer, comprised in the former. For, as is known to the Mystic – or student of Substance, such is the constitution of the universe, that man cannot know himself without knowing God, and cannot know God without knowing himself. And as, moreover, only through the knowledge of the one can the knowledge of the other be attained, so the knowledge of the one implies and involves that of the other. For, as the Mystic knows, there is but one substance alike of man and of God.
4. This substance, we repeat, is not Matter; and a science which recognizes Matter only, so far from ministering towards the desired comprehension of ourselves, is the deadly foe of such comprehension. For, as Matter is, in the sense already described, the antithesis of Spirit, so is Materialism the antithesis of the system under exposition, namely, of Mysticism, or, as we propose to call it, Spiritualism. And here it must be understood that we use this latter term, not in its modern, debased and limited sense, but in its ancient proper purity and plenitude, that wherein it signifies the science, not of spirits merely, but of Spirit, that is, of God, and therein of all Being. Thus adopting and rehabilitating the term Spiritualism, we define as follows: – first, the system we have recovered and seek to establish; and, next the system we condemn and seek to destroy.
5. Dealing with both substance and phenomena, Spirit and Matter, the eternal and the temporal, the universal and the individual; constituting respecting existence a complete system of positive doctrine beyond which neither mind nor heart can aspire; providing a rule of knowledge, of understanding, of faith, and of conduct; derived from God’s own Self; transmitted and declared by the loftiest intelligences in the worlds human and celestial; and in every respect confirmed by the reason, the intuition, and the experience of the earth’s representative men, its sages, saints, seers, prophets, redeemers, and Christs, and by none in any respect confuted; – the system comprised under the term Spiritualism is not only at once a science, a philosophy, a morality, and a religion, but is the science, the philosophy, the morality, and the religion of which all others are, either by aspiration or by degeneration, limitations merely. And according to the degree of its acceptance by man, it ministers to his perfection and satisfaction here and hereafter.
6. But its antithesis: – Springing from the bottomless pit of man’s lower nature; having for its criterion, not the conclusions of the mind or the experiences of the soul, but only the sensations of the body; and being, therefore, not a science, nor a philosophy, nor a morality, nor a religion, but the opposite of each and all of these, – the system comprised under the term Materialism is not a limitation of Spiritualism, but is the negation of it, and is to it what darkness is to light, nonentity to existence, the “devil” to God. And in proportion to the degree of its acceptance by man, it ministers to his deterioration and destruction here and hereafter.
7. Between the two extremes thus presented, having liberty to choose, and power to determine his own destination, man, according to mystical doctrine, is placed, in pursuance of the Divine Idea of which creation is the manifestation. And whereas, implying the culture of the substantial, Spiritualism, as we use the term, represents Reality; and in implying the culture of the phenomenal only, Materialism represents Illusion, the choice between them is the choice between the Perfection and the Negation of Being.
8. But whatever the quarrel of the Spiritualist with Materialism for its exclusive recognition of Matter, and consequent idolatry of form and appearance, with Matter itself he has no quarrel. For, although, by reason of its limitations, the cause of evil, Matter is not in itself evil. On the contrary, it comes forth from God, and consists of that whereof God’s Self consists, namely, Spirit. It is Spirit, by the force of Divine will subjected to conditions and limitations, and made exteriorly cognizable.
9. Matter is thus a manifestation of that which in its original condition is unmanifest, namely, Spirit. And Spirit does not become evil by becoming manifest. Evil is the result of the limitation of Spirit by Matter. For Spirit is God, and God is good. Wherefore, in being the limitation of God, Matter is the limitation of good. Such limitation is essential to creation. For without a projection of Divine Substance, that is, of God’s Self, into conditions and limitations, – of Being, which is absolute, into Existence, which is relative, – God would remain inoperative, solitary, unmanifest, and consequently unknown, unhonored and unloved, with all God’s power and goodness potential merely and unexercised. For aught else to exist that God, there must be that which is by limitation, inferior to God. And for this to exist in plenitude corresponding to God’s infinitude, it must involve the idea of the opposite and negation of God. This is to say: – Creation, to be worthy of God, must involve the idea of a No-God. God’s absolute plenitude in respect of all the qualities and properties which constitute Being, must be contrasted by that utter deprivation of all such properties and qualities, which constitutes Not-Being. Between no narrower extremes can a Divine creation be contained. By no lesser contrast can God be fully manifested. The darkness of God’s shadow must correspond in intensity with the brightness of God’s light. And only through the full the knowledge of the one, can the other be duly apprehended and appreciated. He only can thoroughly appreciate good, who has ample knowledge of evil. It is a profound truth, that “the greater the sinner, the greater the saint.” That exquisite epitome of the Soul’s history, the parable of the Prodigal Son, is based upon the same text. Only they who have gone out from God, returning, know God. At once consequence and cause of the going out from God, Matter is an indispensable minister to Creation, without which and its limitations Creation were not.
10. But mere creation does not represent the totality of the Divine purpose. And a creation restricted to the actualities of Matter would be the reverse of a boon to itself or a credit to God. For by a creation thus limited, Deity would have shown Itself to be that only which the Materialist imagines It, namely, Force. Whereas “God is Love.” And Love is that, not which merely creates and after brief caress repudiates and discards; but which sustains, redeems, perfects, and perpetuates. And to these ends Matter ministers indispensably, and therein contributes towards that second creation which is the supplement and complement of the first. This second creation is called Redemption, and in it the Creator finds His recognition and glorification, and man his perfection and perpetuation. For Redemption is the full compensation, both to God and to the universe, for all that is undergone and suffered by and trough Creation. And it is brought about by the return from Matter of Spirit, to its original condition of purity, but individualized and enriched by the results of all that has been gained through the processes to which it has been subjected; – results which, but for Matter, could not have been. Matter is thus indispensable to the processes both of creation and of perfection. For that through which we are made perfect is experience, or suffering; and we are only really alive and exist in so far as we have felt. Now, of this divine and indispensable ministry of experience, Matter is the agent.
11. Such being for the Spiritualist, who also is Mystic and not Phenomenalist merely, the origin, nature, and final cause of Matter, he has with it no ground of quarrel. But recognizing it as intended, not to conceal but to reveal God, and to minister to man’s creation in the image of God, he regards the material universe as a divine revelation, and seeks, by humble, reverent, and loving analysis of it, to learn both it and God, and thus to make it minister to his own perfection. “Imitation,” it has been said, and truly, “is the sincerest flattery.” And man best honours God when he seeks to be like God. In this pursuit it is that, following his intuition of Spirit, he ascends from the exterior sphere of Matter and appearance, – that sphere which, as the outermost of man’s system, constitutes the borderland between him and negation, and is therefore next neighbour, to that which, mystically, is called the devil, – to the interior sphere of Spirit and Reality, where God subsists in His plenitude. And so, from Nature’s Seeming he attains to the cognition at once of God’s and his own Being.
12. The system by the knowledge and observance of which these supreme ends are attained, and which is now for the first time in the world’s history openly disclosed, has constituted the hidden basis of all the world’s divine revelations and religions. For from the beginning there has been one divine Revelation, constantly re-revealed in whole or in part, and representing the actual eternal nature of existence; and this in such measure as to enable those who receive it to make of their own existence the highest and best that can possibly be imagined or desired. Known by various names, delivered at various places and periods, and finding expression under various symbols, this revelation has constituted a Gospel of Salvation for all who have accepted it, enabling them to escape the limitations of Matter and return to the condition of pure Spirit, and therein to attain immunity, not merely, as is ordinarily desired, from the consequences of sin, but from the liability to sin. And, as history shows, wherever it has succeeded in obtaining full manifestation, Materialism, with all its foul brood, has fled discomfited, like Python, the mighty Serpent of Darkness, before the darts of Phoebus, to make its dwelling in the caverns and secret places of earth.
13. COMING, then, to the proper subject of this Lecture, we will now treat of the Soul, universal and individual, commencing with the latter.
The soul, or permanent element in man, is first engendered in the lowest forms of organic life, from which it works upwards, through plants and animals, to man. Its earliest manifestation is in the ethereal or fluidic material called the astral body; and it is not something added to that body, but is generated in it by the polarization of the elements. Once generated, it enters into and passes through many bodies, and continues to do so until finally perfected or finally dissipated and lost. The process of its generation is gradual. The magnetic forces of innumerable elements are directed and focused to one center; and streams of electric power pass along all their convergent poles to that center, until they create there a fire, a kind of crystallization of magnetic force. This is the Soul, the sacred fire of the hearth, called by the Greeks Hestia, or Vesta, which must be kept burning continually. The astral and fluidic body, its immediate matrix, – called also the perisoul, – and the material or fixed body put forth by this, may fall away and disappear; but the soul, once begotten and made an individual, is immortal, until its own perverse will extinguishes it. For the fire of the soul must be kept alive by the Divine Breath, if it is to endure for ever. It must converge, not diverge. If it diverge, it will be dissipated. The end of progress is unity; the end of degradation is division. The soul, therefore, which ascends, tends more and more to union with and absorption into the Divine.
14. The clearest understanding may be obtained of the soul by defining it as the Divine Idea. Before anything can exist outwardly and materially, the idea of it must subsist in the Divine Mind. The soul, therefore, may be understood to be divine and everlasting in its nature. But it does not act directly upon Matter. It is put forth by the Divine Mind; but the body is put forth by the astral, or “fiery”, body. As Spirit, on the celestial plane, is the parent of the soul, so Fire, on the material plane, begets the body. The plane on which the celestial and creatures touch each other, is the astral plane.
15. The soul, being in its nature eternal, passes from one form to another until, in its highest stage, it polarizes sufficiently to receive the spirit. It is in all organized things. Nothing of an organic nature exists without a soul. It is the individual, and perishes finally if uninformed of the spirit.
16. This becomes readily intelligible if we conceive of God as of a vast spiritual body constituted of many individual elements, all having but one will and therefore being one. This condition of oneness with the Divine Will and Being, constitutes what, in Hindu mysticism, is called the celestial Nirvana. But though becoming pure Spirit, or God, the individual retains his individuality. So that, instead of all being finally merged in the One, the One becomes Many. Thus does God become millions. “God is multitudes, and nations, and kingdoms, and tongues; and the voice of God is as the sound of many waters.”
17. The Celestial Substance is continually individualizing Itself, that It may build Itself up into One perfect Individual. Thus is the Circle of Life accomplished, and thus its ends meet the one with the other. But the degraded soul, on the other hand, must be conceived of as dividing more and more, until, at length, it is scattered into many, and ceases to be as an individual, becoming, as it were, split, and broken up, and dispersed into many pieces. This is the Nirvana of annihilation. (See Appendices, No. IV.)
18. The Planet must not be looked upon as something apart from its offspring. It, also, is a Person, fourfold in nature, and having four orders of offspring, of which orders man alone comprises the whole. Of its offspring some lie in the astral region only, and are but twofold; some in the watery region, and are threefold; and some in the human region, who are fourfold. The metallic and gaseous envelope of the planet, are its body and perisoul. The organic region comprises its soul; and the human region its spirit, or divine part. When it was but metallic it had no individualized soul. When it was but organic it had no divine spirit. But when man was made in the image of God, then was its spirit breathed into its soul. In the metallic region soul is diffused and unpolarized; and the metals, therefore, are not individual; and not being individual, their transmutation does not involve transmigration. But the plants and animals are individual, and their essential element transmigrates and progresses. And man has also a divine spirit; and so long as he is man – that is truly human – he cannot re-descend into the body of an animal or any creature in the sphere beneath him, since that would be an indignity to the spirit. But if he lose his spirit, and become again animal, he may descend, and – disintegrating – become altogether gross and horrible. This is the end of persistently evil men. For God is not the God of creeping things; but Impurity – personified by the Hebrews as Baalzebub – is their god. And there were none of this in the Age of Gold, neither shall there be any when the earth is fully purged. Man’s own wickedness is the creator of his evil beasts. (Comp. Bhagavat-Gita, 1. xvi.)
19. The soul is not astral fluid, but is manifest by astral fluid. For the soul itself is, like the idea, invisible and intangible. This may be best seen by following out the genesis of any particular action. For instance, the stroke of the pen on paper is the phenomenon, that is, the outer body. The action which produces the stroke is the astral body; and, though physical, it is not a thing, but a transition or medium between the result and its cause, – between, that is, the stroke and the idea. The idea, manifested in the act, is not physical, but mental, and is the soul of the act. But even this is not the first cause. For the idea is put forth by the will, and this is the spirit. Thus, we will an idea, as God wills the Macrocosm. The potential body, its immediate result, is the astral body; and the phenomenal body, or ultimate form, is the effect of motion and heat. If we could arrest motion, we should have as the result, fire. But fire itself also is material, since, like the earth or body, it is visible to the outer sense. It has, however, many degrees of subtlety. The astral, or odic, substance, therefore, is not the soul itself, but is the medium or manifestor of the soul, as the act is of the idea.
20. To pursue this explanation a little further. The act is a condition of the idea, in the same way as fire, or incandescence, is the condition of any given object. Fire is, then, the representative of that transitional medium termed the Astral body; as Water – the result of the combined interaction of Wisdom the Mother, or Oxygen, and Justice the Father, or Hydrogen – is of the Soul. Air, which is produced by the mixture – not combination – of Wisdom and Force (Azoth), represents the Spirit – One in operation, but ever Twain in constitution. Earth is not, properly speaking, an element at all. She is the result of the Water and the Air, fused and crystallized by the action of the Fire; and her rocks and strata are either aqueous or igneous. Fire, the real maker of the body, is, as we have seen, a mode and condition, and not a true element. The only real, true, and permanent elements, therefore, are Air and Water, which are, respectively, as Spirit and Soul, Will and Idea, Father and Mother. And out of this are made all the elements of earth by the aid of the condition of Matter, which is, interchangeably, Heat and Motion. Wisdom, Justice, and Force, or Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Azote, are the three out of which the two true elements are produced.
21. Material body, astral fluid or sideral body, soul, and spirit, all these are one in their essence. And the first three are differentialities of polarization. The fourth is God’s Self. When the Gods – the Elohim or Powers of the Hebrews – put forth the world, they put forth substance with its three potentialities, but all in the condition of “odic” light. This substantial light is called sometimes the sideral or astral body, sometimes the perisoul, and this because it is both. It is that which makes, and that which becomes. It is fire, or the anima bruta (as distinguished from the Divine), out of and by means of which body and soul are generated. It is the fiery manifestation of the soul, the magnetic factor of the body. It is space, it is substance, it is foundation; so that from it proceed the gases and the minerals, which are unindividualized, and from it also the organic world which is individualized. But man it could not make; for man is fourfold and of the divine ether, the province assigned by the Greeks to Zeus, the father of the Gods and men.
22. The outer envelope of the macrocosm and the microcosm alike, the Earth or body, is thus in reality not elemental at all, but is a compound of the other three elements. Its fertility is due to the water, and its transmutory or chemical power to the fire. The water corresponds to the soul, – the “best principle” of Pindar, – while fire is to the body what spirit is to the soul. As the soul is without divinity and life until vivified by the spirit, so the body – earth or Matter – is without physical life in the absence of fire. No Matter is really dead Matter, for the fire element is in all Matter. But Matter would be dead, would cease, that is, to exist as Matter, if motion were suspended, which is, if there were no fire. For, as wherever there is motion there is heat, and consequently fire; and motion is the condition of Matter, so without fire would be no Matter. In other words, Matter is a mode of life.
23. WE come now to the history and progress of the soul. Souls, we have said, work upwards from plants and animals to man. In man they attain their perfection and the power to dispense altogether with material bodies. Their ability to do this is the cause and consequence of their perfection. And it is the attainment of this that is the object of the culture of the soul – the object, that is, of religion. Spirit alone is good, is God. Matter is that whereby spirit is limited, and is, therein, the cause of evil; for evil is the limitation of good. Wherefore to escape from Matter and its limitations, and return to the condition of spirit, is to be superior to the liability to evil.
24. Formerly the way of escape for human souls was more open than now, and the path clearer. Because, although ignorance of intellectual things abounded, specially among the poorer folk, yet the knowledge of divine things, and the light of faith, were stronger and purer. The anima bruta, or earthly mind, was less strongly defined and fixed, so that the anima divina, or heavenly mind, subsisted in more open conditions. Wherefore the souls of those ages of the world, not being enchained to earth as they now are, were enabled to pass more quickly through their avatars; and but few incarnations sufficed where now many are necessary. For in these days the mind’s ignorance is weighted by materialism, instead of being lightened by faith; and the soul is sunk to earth by love of the body, by atheism, and by excessive care for the things of sense. And being crushed thereby, it lingers long in the atmosphere of earth, seeking many fresh lodgements, and so multiplies bodies, the circumstances of each of which are influenced by the use made of the previous one.
25. For every man makes his own fate, and nothing is truer than that character is Destiny. It is by their own hands that the lines of some are cast in pleasant places, of some in vicious, and of some in virtuous ones, so that there is nothing arbitrary or unjust. But in what manner so ever a soul conduct itself in one incarnation, by that conduct, by that order of thought and habit, it builds for itself its destiny in a future incarnation. For the soul is enchained by these prenatal influences, which irresistibly force it into a new nativity at the time of such conjunction of planets and signs as oblige it into certain courses and incline it strongly thereto. But if the soul oppose itself to these influences and adopt some other course, – as it well may to its own real advantage, – it brings itself under a “curse” for such period as the planets and ruling signs of that incarnation have power. But though this mean is misfortune in a worldly sense, it is true fortune for the soul in a spiritual sense. For the soul is therein striving to atone and make restitution for the evil done in its own past; and thus striving, it advances towards higher and happier conditions. Wherefore man is, strictly, his own creator, in that he makes himself and his conditions, according to the tendencies he encourages. The process of such reformation, however, may be a long one. For, tendencies encouraged for ages cannot be cured in a single lifetime, but may require ages for their cure.
And herein is a reflection to make us as patient towards the faults of others, as we ought to be impatient of our own faults.
26. The doctrine of the soul is embodied in the parable of the Talents. Into the soul of the individual is breathed the Spirit of God, divine, pure, and without blemish. It is God. And the individual has, in his earth-life, to nourish that Spirit and feed it as a flame with oil. When we put oil into a lamp, the essence passes into and becomes flame. So is it with the soul of him who nourishes the Spirit. It grows gradually pure and becomes Spirit. By this spirit the body is enlightened as a lamp by the flame within it. Now, the flame is not the oil, for the oil may be there without the light; yet the flame cannot be there without the oil. The body, then, is the lamp-case into which the oil is poured; and this, the oil, is the soul, a fine and combustible fluid; and the flame is the Divine Spirit, which is not born of the oil, but is communicated by God from within. We may quench this Spirit utterly, and thenceforward we shall have no immortality; but when the lamp-case breaks, the oil will be spilt on the earth, and a few fumes will for a time arise from it, and then it will expend itself, leaving at last no trace. Thus, as in the parable of the Talents, where God has given five talents, man pays back ten; or he pays back nothing, and perishes.
27. Some oils are finer and more combustible than others. The finest is that of the soul of the poet; and in such a medium the flame of God’s Spirit burns more clearly and powerfully, and brightly, so that sometimes mortal eyes can hardly endure its lustre. Of such an one the soul is filled with holy rapture. He sees as no other man sees; and the atmosphere about him is enkindled. His soul becomes transmuted into flame; and when the lamp of his body is shattered, his flame mounts and soars, and is united to the Divine Fire. (See Appendices, No. IX)
28. WE come to treat of that from which the soul of the individual proceeds, and of which it consists. For, as already observed, it is upon the nature of this that our potentialities depend. Let us, then, for awhile, ignoring the universe of things, cast our minds backward to the point wherein, prior to existence, substance necessarily, subsists alone and undifferentiated, and pure Being is all.
29. That which subsists before the beginning of things, is necessarily the potentiality of things. This necessarily is homogeneous. As the Substance of things, and pervaded by Life, it is Living Substance; and being homogeneous, it is One. But, consisting of Life and Substance, it is Twain. Constituting the life and substance of Persons, it is necessarily personal; and being self-subsistent, infinite, eternal, and personal, it is God; and God is Twain in One. By virtue of the potency of this duality, God subsists and operates. And every monad of God’s substance possesses the potency of Twain. Wherever are Life and Substance, there is God. Wherever God is, there is Being; and wherever Being is, there is God; for God is Being. The universe is Existence, that is, God manifested. Prior to the universe, God subsisted unmanifest. Subsistence and Existence, these are the two terms which denote respectively God in God’s Self, and God in Creation.
30. Before the beginning of things, the great and invisible God alone subsisted. There was no motion, nor darkness, nor space, nor matter. There was no other then God, the One, the Uncreate, the Self-subsistent, Who subsisted as invisible Light.
31. God is Spirit, God is Life, God is Mind, God is the Subject and Object of mind: at once the thought, the thinker, and that which is thought of. God is positive and personal Being; the potential Essence of all that is or can be; the one and only Self; that alone in the universe which has the right to say, “I”. Wherever a Presence is, there is God; and where God is not, is no Being.
32. In God subsist, in absolute plenitude and perfect equilibrium, all qualities and properties which, opposed to and yet corresponding with each other, constitute the elements masculine and feminine of existence. God is perfect will, and perfect love, perfect knowledge and perfect wisdom, perfect intelligence and perfect sympathy, perfect justice and perfect mercy, perfect power and perfect goodness. And from God, as original and abstract humanity, proceeds the derived and concrete humanity which, when perfected, manifests God. God is light, truth, order, harmony, reason; and God’s works are illumination, knowledge, understanding, love, and sanity. And inasmuch as anything is absolute, strong, perfect, true, inasmuch it resembles God and is God. Perfect and complete from eternity, God is beyond possibility of change or development. Development pertains only to the manifestation of God in creation. As God is one, so is God’s method one, and without variation or shadow of turning. God works from within outwards; for God’s kingdom is within, being interior, invisible, mystic, spiritual. And God’s Spirits, Other Spirits of the Invisible Light, are Seven: – the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of power, the spirit of knowledge, the spirit of righteousness, and the spirit of divine awfulness. These are the Powers, or Elohim, of God. They are coequal and co-eternal. Each has in itself the nature of the whole. Each is a perfect entity. Of them all is the whole of God’s substance pervaded. And in their individual manifestations they are the Gods.
33. In God, before the beginning, all things visible and invisible were potential; and of God’s fullness have we all received. Before the beginning negation was not. There was no other than God.
34. As Living Substance, God is One. As Life and Substance, God is Twain. HE is the Life, and SHE is the Substance. And to speak of HER, is to speak of Woman in her supremest mode. She is not “Nature;” Nature is the manifestation of the qualities and properties with which, under suffusion of the Life and Spirits of God, Substance is endowed. She is not matter; but is the potential essence of Matter. She is not Space; but is the within of space, its fourth and original dimension, that from which all proceed, the containing element of Deity, and of which space is the manifestation. As original Substance, the substance of all others substances, She underlies that whereof all things are made; and, like life and mind, is interior, mystical, spiritual, and discernible only when manifested in operation. In the Unmanifest, She is the Great Deep, or Ocean, of Infinitude, the Principium or Arche, the heavenly Sophia, or Wisdom, Who encircles and embraces all things; of Whom are dimension and form and appearance; Whose veil is the astral fluid, and Who is, Herself, the substance of all souls.
35. On the plane of manifestation, as the Soul macrocosmic and microcosmic, She appears as the Daughter, Mother, and Spouse of God. Exhibiting in a perfect Humanity the fullness of the life she has received of God, she is mystically styled the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in token of her Divine Motherhood and heavenly derivation and attributes, is represented as clad in celestial azure, and bearing in Her arms the infant Man, in whom, regenerate and reborn of Her own immaculate substance, the universe is redeemed. In Her subsist inherently all the feminine qualities of the Godhead. As Venus, the brightest of the mystic Seven who represent the Elohim of God, She corresponds to the third, the spirit of counsel, in that counsel is wisdom, and love and wisdom are one. Thus, in mystical art She is portrayed as Aphrodite the Sea-Queen, and Mary the Star of the Sea, and as the soul from whose pure intuition of God proceeds the perfected man. Correspondingly, in mystical science She appears as Sodium, or Salt, whose ray in the spectrum, as the place of Venus among the planets, is the third, whose light is the brightest, and whose colour is the yellow. Among the metals, copper is dedicated to Venus. For of copper the crystals are the deep sea-blue. And, inasmuch as She, as love, is the enlightener, and as salt the purifier, and the pure in heart see God, so is its sulphate a balm for ailing eyes. As Pallas or Minerva, She is “Our Lady of Victories,” adversary of demons and dragons, wearing the panoply of heaven, and the insignia of wisdom and righteous war. As Isis or Artemis, She is pre-eminently the Initiator, the Virgin clothed in white, standing on the Moon, and ruling the waters.
36. Also is She “Mother of Sorrows,” whose bitterness pervades all things below; and only by her salting with affliction, purification by trial, and purchase of wisdom by dear-bought experience, is the perfection that is of Her attained. Nevertheless She is also “Mother of Joys,” since Her light is gilded by the solar rays; and of Her pain and travail as the soul in the individual, comes the regeneration of Her children. And She is for them no more a sea of bitterness when once their warfare with evil has been accomplished: for then is She “our Lady, Glory of the Church triumphant.” Thus is the Microcosm.
37. In the Macrocosm She is that Beginning or Wisdom wherein God makes the heavens and the earth; the substantial waters upon whose face He, the Energizing Will, moves at every fresh act of creation, and the ark or womb from which all creatures proceed. And it is through the “gathering together”, or coagulation, of Her “waters” that the “dry land” of the earth or body, which is Matter, appears. For she is that spiritual substance which, polarizing interiorly, is – in the innermost – God; and coagulating exteriorly, becomes – in the outermost – Matter. And She, again, it is, who as the soul of humanity, regaining full intuition of God, overwhelms the earth with a flood of Her waters, destroying the evil and renewing the good, and bearing unharmed on Her bosom the elect few who have suffered Her to build them up in the true image of God. Thus to these is She “Mother of the Living.”
38. And as, on plane physical, man is not Man – but only Boy, rude, froward, and solicitous only to exert and exhibit his strength – until the time comes for him to recognize, appreciate, and appropriate Her as the woman; so on the plane spiritual, man is not Man – but only Materialist, having all the deficiencies, intellectual and moral, the term implies – until the time comes for him to recognize, appreciate, and appropriate Her as the Soul, and, counting Her as his better half, to renounce his own exclusively centrifugal impulsions, and yield to Her centripetal attractions. Doing this with all his heart, he finds that She makes him, in the highest sense, Man. For, adding to his intellect Her intuition, She endows him with that true manhood, the manhood of Mind. Thus, by Her aid obtaining cognition of substance, and from the phenomenal fact ascending to the essential idea, he weds understanding to knowledge, and attains to certitude of truth, completing thereby the system of his thought.
39. Rejecting, as this age has done, the soul and her intuition, man excludes from the system of his humanity the very idea of the woman, and renounces his proper manhood. An Esau, he sells, and for a mess of pottage, his birthright, the faculty of intellectual comprehension. Cut off by his own act from the intuition of spirit, he takes Matter for Substance; and sharing the limitations of Matter, loses the capacity for knowledge. Calling the creature thus self-mutilated, Man, the age declares by the unanimous voice of its exponents, that Man has no instrument of knowledge, and can know nothing with certainty, excepting – for it is not consistent even in this – that he can know nothing. Of this the age is quite sure, and accordingly – complacent in its discovery – styles itself Agnostic. And, as if expressly to demonstrate the completeness of its deprivation in respect to all that goes to the making of Man, it has recourse to devices the most nefarious and inhuman on the pretext of thereby obtaining knowledge.
40. Whereas, had but the soul received the recognition and honour her due, no pretext had remained for the abominations of a science become wholly materialistic. For, as the substance and framer of all things, she necessarily is competent for the interpretation of all things. All that she requires of man, is that she be duly tended and heeded. No summit then will be too lofty of goodness or truth, for man to reach by her aid. For, recognized in her plenitude she reveals herself in her plenitude; and her fullness is the fullness of God.
41. The wise of old, who, exalting the Woman in themselves, attained to full intuition of God, failed not to make recognition of Her in the symbols whereby they denoted Deity. Hence the significance of the combination, universal from the first, of the symbols I, O, the unit and the cipher, in the names designative of Deity. For, as the Line of force, and the Circle of comprehension and multiplication, these two represent at once Energy and Space, Will and Love, Life and Substance, Father and Mother. And though two, they are one, inasmuch as the circle is but the line turning round and following upon itself, instead of continuing into the abyss to expend its force in vain. Thus Love is self-completion by the union of corresponding opposites in the same substance, and Sex has its origin in the very nature of Deity. The principle of duality is for the Kabbalists – the heirs and interpreters of Hebrew transcendentalism – the true God of Hosts. Hence the universal use of its emblems religious worship, wherein nations gave the preference to the one or to the other, according to their own characteristics.
42. While these symbols conjoined find expression in terms Jehovah or Yahveh, Jove, Jao, and numerous similar appellations of Deity, the names Zeus, Dyaus, Theos, and Deus represent but the forceful and masculine element in the feminine azure sphere of the sky, the electric flash from the bosom of the heavens. That name of Deity which, occurring in the Old Testament, is translated the Almighty, namely, El Shaddai, signifies the Breasted God, and is used when the mode of the Divine nature implied, is of a feminine character. The arbitrary and harsh aspect under which Jehovah is chiefly presented in the Hebrew Scriptures, is due not to any lack of the feminine element either in His name or in His nature, or to any failure on the part of the inspired leaders of Israel to recognize this quality; but to the rudimentary condition of the people at large, and their consequent amenability to a delineation of the sterner side only of the Divine character. It is according to the Divine order that this, the masculine element of existence, should be the first to find exercise. In the initiation of any system, the centrifugal, or repellant mode of force must precede the centripetal or attractive mode; since only when the former has accomplished its part, is there opportunity for the exercise of the latter. True, the Love Who prompts to creation is present from the beginning; but She reserves the manifestation of Herself until the subject of Her creative impulsion is able to bear its part in the recognition of Her. First Will, therefore, then Love; first Projection, then Recall; first Expansion, then Contraction; first Centrifugal, then Centripetal; first Motor, then Sensory; first Intellectual, then Intuitional; first Sensible, then Spiritual; in short, first Man and then Woman, – such invariably is the order by which the Universal Heart of existence manifests its essential dualism of nature and operation. And in the sequence set forth in the Bible – the sequence, of Law and Gospel, of Old Testament and New – the same rule prevails. To the masculine function is accorded precedence in point of time; to the feminine, in point of dignity. And it is thus that the manifestation of the Divine will and power in Creation is followed by the manifestation of the Divine love and wisdom in Redemption, and that the agent of this last is always the “woman.” She it is who, by Her intuition of God, bruises the head of the Serpent of Matter, and Her sons they are who get the victory over him.
43. Even where not yet recognized by men in general, there were always some by whom the true character of Deity in this respect could be discerned. And to these are due all those utterances in which the mystical Scriptures express the justice, mercy, long-suffering, and other qualities of the Divine nature, which, in being moral and of the soul, are feminine, and when manifested of the Spirit as persons, take form, not as “Gods”, but “Goddesses.” They to whom this truth was known were prophets: and they spoke, not of that which appertains to any one period, but of that which is eternal, though finding expression more or less palpable at various periods. And that thereby they knew so much, was not the outer sense and reason, but the inner perception and recollection – the knowledge, that is, which the soul of the individual has of her own larger self, the Soul of the Universal. For only Soul can read Soul. And only he is a prophet who has acquired the knowledge of his own soul. And that which above all else the Soul tells him, is that God is, first and foremost, Love; and that, inasmuch as God is the Substance of humanity, whatever subsists in the Divine nature must, in due course, first in the individual and next in the race, find full expression and recognition.
44. If it be asked whether God can indeed find such expression in man, and, if so, how so great a marvel comes about, we reply that it is precisely the purpose of these lectures to afford demonstration on both points. For the object of the system under exposition is this, and no more, no less. For that object is – as was the object of all sacred mysteries, whether of our Bible or other – to enable man anew so to develop the Soul, or Essential Woman, within him, as to become, through Her, a perfect reflection of the universal Soul, and made, therefore, in what, mystically, is called the image of God.
45. An illustration will conduce to the comprehension of this. We are, let us suppose, in a meadow covered with grass and flowers. It is early morning, and everything is bespangled with dew. And in each dewdrop is everything reflected from the sun itself down to the minutest object. All reflect God. All is in every drew-drop. And God is in each individual according to his capacity for reflecting God. Each in his degree reflects God’s image. And the capacity of each, and the degree of each, depend upon the development and purity of his soul. The soul that fully reflects the sun, becomes itself a sun, the brightness of the Divine glory and the express image of the Divine persons.
46. Such, in all mystical Scriptures, has ever been the mode in which perfected souls have been regarded. For, in being the redeeming element in man, that whereby he escapes from the dominion of spiritual darkness and death, – from the limitations, that is, of an existence merely material,– the soul is as a spiritual sun, corresponding in all things with the solar orb. Wherefore all they who, by virtue of their constituting for men a full manifestation of the powers of the soul, have been to them as a redeeming sun, – have been designated Sun gods., and invested with careers corresponding to the apparent annual course of the sun. Between the phenomena of this course and the actual history of the perfected soul is an exact correspondence requiring for its recognition but due knowledge of both. And it is because the soul’s history is one, and this a history corresponding with the sun’s, that all those who have earned of their fellows the supreme title of Saviour of men, have been invested with it, and represented as having exhibited the same phenomena in their own lives. Thus the history ascribed alike to Osiris, Zoroaster, Krishna, Mithras, Pythagoras, Buddha, and Jesus, has not, as sciolists vainly imagine, been plagiarized in one case from another, or borrowed from some common source in itself unreal; but it has been lived, spiritually, by the men themselves indicated by those names. And, being the history of the soul of the Man Regenerate, it corresponds to that of the sun, – the vitalizing center of the physical system, – and has accordingly been described in terms derived from the solar phenomena as indicated in the zodiacal planisphere. Thus the soul’s history is written in the stars; and the heavens are her chroniclers, and tell the glory at once of her and of God. A Bible is always a hieroglyph of the soul. And the Zodiac is simply the first and most stupendous of Bibles, – a Bible which, like all other Bibles, was written by men who, attaining to the knowledge of their own souls, to that of all souls, and of God, Who is the Life and Substance of souls.
47. And these were men who followed steadfastly that Perfect Way, which is in the power of each, according to his degree, to follow, until, by the development of their own natural potentialities, they attained to that which, mystically, is called the Finding of Christ. And this is the perfection which, in that it is God, is its own exceeding great reward. For the “gift of God is eternal life.” As God is One, so is the Soul one; and these are One also both in nature and method. All that is in God as universal subsists also in God as individual. Wherefore God is nothing that man is not. And what man is, that God is likewise. God withholds nothing of God from man. For “God is love,” and “love hath nothing of her own.”
48. This is the doctrine of the Soul, mystically called the Woman. It is a doctrine which, by showing men that of which they are made, and therefore that which they have it in them to be, makes them, when they receive it, heartily ashamed of being what, for the most part, they are. (See Appendices, No. I, Part I.)
LECTURE THE THIRD
THE VARIOUS ORDERS OF SPIRITS; AND HOW TO DISCERN THEM.
01. WE have spoken of the Soul and of Spirit. We come now to speak of Spirits; for the understanding of these also is necessary to a true doctrine concerning Existence. But though speaking especially of Spirits, it will be necessary to refer also to Souls; for though Spirits, properly so called, have not souls, Souls have spirits. In either case, however, we shall treat mainly of the Unembodied, or the Disembodied. And as the region or sphere which is immediately contiguous to the Material, and which we ourselves enter upon quitting the Material, is the Astral, it is this and its occupants, which will first engage our attention.
02. To understand fully the place and value of this sphere, it is necessary to have in the mind a clear conception of the places and values of all the spheres which are comprised in and which constitute that manifestation of Being which is termed Existence. To this end we will commence with the following succinct recapitulation .The Spirit and Soul, which are original life and substance, are Divine and uncreated. The astral and material bodies are the “created” that is, the manifested – part. The astral – which is called also the sideral, the odic, the magnetic, the fiery – is fluidic, and constitutes the bond between the soul and the material body. It is the original body being that which makes and that which becomes. The original, permanent individual consists of soul and spirit; and when manifested it is by means of the astral or fluidic body, of which the material or fixed body is the outer manifestation – the manifestation, as it is called, in ultimates.
03. Every creation, or complete manifested entity, whether it be macrocosmic or microcosmic, is a compound of two dualisms, which are respectively celestial and terrestrial, or spiritual and material. The celestial, or kingdom of heaven, which consists of soul and spirit, is within. And the terrestrial, or kingdom of this world, which consists of astral body – the seat of the anima bruta – and of phenomenal body, is without. Of these two dualisms, each is to the other the Beyond. And between them, saving only where one and the same Divine Will – the will which has its seat in, and which is, the Spirit – pervades the whole being, is antagonism. They are respectively the spiritual man and the natural man. But in the suffusion of the entire personality thus constituted, by one and the same Divine Will, consists what mystically is termed the At-one-ment, or reconciliation between man and God, but which is commonly called the Atonement.
04. As the whole is, thus, fourfold, so with the exception of the spirit, are the parts. The external, material body, whether of planet or of man, is fourfold in that it is gaseous, mineral, vegetable, animal. The astral body, or perisoul, is fourfold, being magnetic, purgatorial, limbic, cherubic, – terms presently to be explained. The soul is fourfold, namely, elemental, instinctive, vital, rational. And the spirit is threefold, or triune, because there is no external to spirit. Being threefold, it is the Essence, the Father, the Word; and is desirous, willing, obedient. And being God, it is one, because God is one. And thus the magical number, mystically called the number of Perfection and of the Woman, the number Thirteen, derives its sanctity from the constitution of the perfected individual.
05. The astral sphere, zone, or circulus, – variously called the perisoul, the magnetic, sideral, and odic fluid or body, – is the same with the “wheel” of Ezekiel, of which the four living creatures are the four elemental spirits. It contains four orders of entities, which are represented by four magnetic circuli or wheels encircling the earth, and full of lives. The highest and uppermost of these circuli is that of the elemental spirits or “winged creatures”; the second is that of the souls; the third is that of the shades; and the fourth and lowest is that of the magnetic spirits commonly called astrals.
06. These circuli correspond to Air, Water, Earth, and Fire, beginning at the outer and uppermost and going inwards and downwards. The magnetic emanations, or astrals, are under the dominion of the Fire. They are not souls, or divine personalities; they are simply emanations or phantasms, and have no real being.
07. Every event or circumstance which has taken place upon the planet, has an astral counterpart or picture in the magnetic light; so that, as already said there are actually ghosts of events as well as of persons. The magnetic existences of this circle are the shades, or manes, of past times, circumstances, thoughts, and acts of which the planet has been the scene; and they can be evoked and conjured. The appearances on such occasions are but shadows left on the protoplasmic mirror. This order, then, corresponds to that of Fire and is the fourth and lowest.
08. The next circulus, the third, with its spirits, corresponds to Earth, and contains the shades, Lares and Penates, of the dead. These are of many different kinds. Some are mere shades, spiritual corpses, which will soon be absorbed by the fourth circulus just described and become mere magnetic phantoms. Some are “ghosts,” or astral souls not containing the divine particle, but representing merely the “earthly minds” of the departed. These are in Limbo or the “Lower Eden.” Others are really Souls, and of the celestial order, or anima divina, who are in Purgatory, being bound to the astral envelope, and unable to quit it. They are sometimes called “earthbound spirits,” and they often suffer horrible torments in their prison; not because this circulus is itself a place of torment, but because to the anima divina the body, whether material or astral, is a “house of bondage” and chamber of ordeal. The strong wills, love, and charity of those on earth may relieve these souls and lessen the time of their purgatorial penance. Of some of them the retention is due ignorance, of others to sensuality, and of others to crimes of violence, injustice, and cruelty.
09. This sphere is also inhabited by a terrible class, that of the “devils,” some of whom are of great power and malice. Of these the souls are never set free; they are in what is called “Hell.” But they are not immortal. For, after a period corresponding to their personal vitality and the strength of their rebellious wills, they are consumed, and perish for ever. For a soul may be utterly gross at last, and deprived of all spirit of the Divine order, and yet may have so strong a vitality or mortal spirit of its own, that it may last hundreds of years in low atmospheres. But this occurs only with souls of very strong will, and generally of indomitable wickedness. The strength of their evil will, and the determination to be wicked, keep them alive. But, though devils, they are mortal, and must go out at last. Their end is utter darkness. They cease to exist. Meanwhile they can be evoked by incantation. But the practice is of the most dangerous and wicked kind; for the endeavour of these lost spirits is to ruin every soul to which they have access.
10. In the sense ordinarily understood, there is no personal Devil. That which, mystically, is called the Devil, is the negation and opposite of God. And whereas God is I AM, or positive Being, the Devil is NOT. He is not positive, not self-subsistent, not formulate. God is all these; and the Devil, in being the opposite of these, is none of them. God, as has been said, is Light, Truth, Order, Harmony, Reason; and God’s works are illumination, knowledge, understanding, love, and sanity. The Devil, therefore, is darkness, falsehood, discord, and ignorance; and his works are confusion, folly, division, hatred, and delirium. He has no individuality and no being. For he represents the Not-being. Whatever God is, that the Devil is NOT. Wherever God’s kingdom is not, the Devil reigns.
11. It is the principle of Not-being which, taking personality in man, becomes to him the Devil. For by divesting him of his divine qualities, actual or potential, it makes him in the image of God’s opposite, that is, a devil. And of such an one the end is destruction, or, as the Scriptures call it, eternal death. And this of necessity from the nature of the case. For evil has not in itself the element of self-perpetuation. God alone is Life, or the principle of eternal generation. And, as Life, God comprises all things necessary to life, to its production, that is, to its perfection, and to its perpetuation. And God is Spirit, whereof the antithetical ultimate is Matter. The Devil is that which gives to Matter the pre-eminence over Spirit. That is, since there is nothing but God’s creation to be set in opposition to God, the Devil exalts the mere material of creation in the place of God. Of such preference for Matter over Spirit, for appearance over reality, for Seeming over Being, the end is the forfeiture of reality, and therein, of Being. In representing, therefore, the contest between good and evil, – a contest corresponding to that between light and darkness, – creation represents the contest between Being and Not-being. To “give place to the Devil,” is thus, in its ultimate result, to renounce Being. And, as a free agent, man is able to do this. God, while giving to all the opportunity and choice, compels no one to remain in Being. God accepts only willing service, and there is no such thing as compulsory salvation. God – that is Good, – must be loved and followed for the sake of God and Good, not through fear of possible penalties, or hope of possible rewards.
12. Now the sign, above all others, whereby to distinguish the Devil, is this: God is, first and foremost, Love. The Devil, therefore, is, before all else, Hate. He is to be known, then, first by the limitation, and next by the negation, of Love.
13. The Devil is not to be confounded with “Satan,” though they are sometimes spoken of in Scriptures as if they were identical. The truth concerning “Satan” belongs to those greater mysteries which have always been reserved from general cognition. (See Appendices, No. XV.)
14. Not withstanding that the Devil is the Nonentity above described, he is the most potent, and, indeed, sole power of evil. And no one is in so great danger from him, as he who does not believe in him. The whole function of the Christ is to oppose, and rescue men from him. And therefore it is written, “For this cause is Christ manifest, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
15. But, be it remembered, though there is no self-subsistent, positive evil being, – such as the Devil is ordinarily presented, – but only the negation of God, – which is to God what darkness is to light, and the outermost void to the solar system, – there are evil spirits, the souls of bad man on their downward way to final extinction. And these are wont to associate themselves with persons in the flesh for whom they have affinity. And they do this partly in order to gratify their own evil propensities by inciting to wickedness and mischief, and partly to obtain from them the vitality necessary to prolong their own existence. For, as their career approaches its end, they become so low in vitality that a sentence of expulsion from the person in whom they have taken refuge may involve their immediate extinction, unless they can find other location – a contingency obviously contemplated in the case of the Gadarene demoniacs. The ailments, physical or mental, of men are sometimes caused or aggravated by extraneous malignant entities of this order. And occultists hold that they even share with the elementals the power of inducing the conditions under which sudden storms and other elemental disturbances occur. Evil spirits have no chief, no organization or solidarity; nothing that corresponds to God. The worse they are; the lower and nearer to extinction. The conditions which attract them are due to men themselves, and may be result of pre natal misconduct.
16. The next and second circulus of the planet, – that which corresponds to the Water, – is the kingdom of the souls which are mystically described as being in “Brahma’s bosom.” These are the purified who are at rest before seeking reincarnation. This circulus is not confined to human souls. Therein are all creatures both great and small, but without “fiery” envelope. Between these and the kingdom of the earthbound souls in prison to their own astral bodies, a great gulf is fixed; and they cannot pass from one to the other save on accomplishing their purgation. “Thou comest not out thence until thou hast paid the last mite.” The souls in the second circulus, however, though purified, are still “under the elements.” For purification is not regeneration, though a necessary step towards it. And not being ready for transmutation into spirit, they must, sooner or later, seek fresh incarnations. They are, therefore, still in the sphere of the planet. Whereas the regenerated or transmuted souls have passed beyond the astral zone altogether and it contains no trace of them. This second circulus was placed under the dominion of the sea-god Poseidon, because, first, being protoplasmic and devoid of any limiting principle, water corresponds to the substance of the Soul. Next, it is the baptismal symbol of purification from materiality. And, thirdly, it is the source of life and the contrary of fire. “Let Lazarus dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue,” cries the soul in the prison of the “fiery” body to the soul in the zone of the water.
17. To the first and highest circulus belong the spirits of the elements, which pervade all things, not only of the Macrocosmic planet, but of the Microcosm man. Of these elementals, the air-spirits preside over the function of respiration, and the organs which accomplish it. The water-spirits preside over the humors and secretions of the body, and in particular the blood. The earth-spirits have for their domain the various tissues of the body. And animal heat, assimilation, and nutrition are dependent on the fire-spirits.
18. An initiate of the highest grade, on who has power to hush the storm and still the waves, can, through the same agency, heal the disorders and regenerate the functions of the body. And he does this by an impulsion of will acting on the magnetic atmosphere, every particle of which has a spirit capable of responding to the human will.
19. The common phrase, “Spirits of the dead,” is incorrect. There are only shades of the dead souls of the dead. But these last are of two kinds, the earthly, or anima bruta, and the heavenly, or anima divina. The shade, larva, or spectre – which is the outer element of the ghost – is always dumb. The true “ghost” consists of the exterior and earthly portion of the soul, that portion which, being weighted with cares attachments and memories merely mundane, is detached by the soul and remains in the astral sphere, an existence more or less definite and personal, and capable of holding, through a Sensitive, converse with the living. It is, however, but as a cast-off vestment of the soul, and is incapable of endurance as ghost. The true soul and real person, the anima divina, parts at death with all those lower affections which would have retained it near its earthly haunts, and either passes on at once to higher conditions, attaining its perfection by post mortem evolution, or continues its peregrinations in a new body. This, the true soul, may, by Divine permission, and on special occasions, communicate with the living, returning for that purpose from the purgatorial world; but such an event is of the rarest and most solemn kind. Reincarnation pertains only to the true soul. The astral soul, or fluidic envelope, does not again become incarnate; so that they are not in error who assert that a person is never twice incarnate. That which transmigrates is the essential germ of the individual, the seat of all his divine potencies. In some this exists as a mere dim spark, and in others as a luminous sun.
20. Metempsychosis, in its strict sense, consists in the overshadowing of a soul already incarnate, by one which has completed its transmigrations, and become freed from Matter and all planetary bonds. This divine overshadowing differs both in kind and in degree from those astral visitations which are familiar to so many under the names of “guides,” and “controls,” and which as will presently be shown, are often not even “ghosts,” but mere astral mirages of the seer or the invoker. When not of this kind, the control is either of the spirits known as Elementals, or of the shades or larvæ of the recently dead, the Manes, Lares, and Penates of the Latins. The river Lethe, of which the dead are said to drink in order to attain oblivion of their past before returning to new earth-bodies, represents the process of separation between the anima divina and anima bruta, whereby the former doffs for a time the garment of its memory. Souls may, according to circumstances, either become reincarnate immediately after such divestment of their astral part, or their astral part, or proceed to accomplish their purification in the purgatorial world. (See Appendices, No. II.)
21. It is as penance or expiation that souls re-descend from the human into the animal form. This return occurs through the forfeiture of the divine-human spirit, so that the spirit itself does not incur dishonor. True, the penance involves disgrace; but the disgrace is not in the penance, but in the sin through which the need for the penance is incurred. The man who sullies his humanity by cruelty or impurity, is already below the grade of humanity; and the form which his soul assumes is the mere natural consequence of that degradation. Form is the expression of qualities. These are dependent upon the condition of substance, so that the soul takes necessarily its form according to its condition. And this is dependent upon the will or affections of the individual. Wherefore it is an error to hold “Nature” responsible for fierce and horrible creatures. All that “Nature” does, is to enable creatures to take form according to the image in which they have made themselves by the tendencies they have voluntarily encouraged. She allows that which is interior to the individual to manifest itself exteriorly. Were this not so, no character of any creature could be known by its appearance. The “mark set upon Cain” has its counterpart in the stripe of the tiger; and the crustacea denote selfish spirits, who are hard exteriorly to all the world, and soft only interiorly to themselves. The adept in Psychology can tell whether the soul of an animal is on its upward or its downward path. He can discern also the animal beneath the human form, when the progressing soul has not yet wholly shed the animal nature; for the exterior form of humanity is reached in full while its interior reality is reached in part only. Thus, for the adept there are more animals than men to be seen in the streets of a city, despite the humanity of their forms. The individual is already partly human before it has ceased to wear the form of a rudimentary man, that is, of an animal. The matrix can bring forth only its own kind, in the semblance of the generators; and as soon as the human is attained, even in the least degree, the soul has power to put on body of humanity. Thus, too, the adept can see the human shape in creatures under torture in the physiological laboratory. He can discern the potential form of a man with limbs and lineaments resembling those of his tormentors, hidden within the outward form as a child in its mother’s womb, and writhing and moaning under the lacerations of the knife. And he sees also the tiger and the devil rapidly developing within the still human forms of the torturers, and knows certainly that to such grades they will descend on quitting the human. For he knows, having learned it by the long experiences of his own soul, that God, who is before all else Love, is also before all else Justice, and this because God is Love; for Justice is Sympathy.
Wherefore, by the inexorable law of Justice, he who makes existence a hell for others, prepares, inevitably, a hell for himself, wherein he will be his own devil, the inflictor of his own torments. His victims will, indeed, find compensation at the Divine hands; but for him will be no escape, no alleviation, until “he has paid the last mite.” For the pitiless, and for the pitiless alone, there is no pity. Such, the adept of spiritual science knows absolutely, is the doom that awaits both the tormentor himself, and, in their degree, those who by accepting the results of his practice, consent to his method.
22. That which leads to the loss of the soul, is not isolated crime, however heinous, or even a repetition of this; but a continued condition of the heart, in which the will of the individual is in persistent opposition to the Divine Will; for this is a state in which repentance is impossible. The condition most favourable to salvation, and speedy emancipation from successive incarnations, is the attitude of willing obedience, – freedom and submission. The great object to be attained is emancipation from the body, – the redemption, that is, of Spirit from Matter.
23. WE will now speak particularly of that order of spirits by which, ordinarily, “mediums” are “controlled;” or, more correctly, sensitives are influenced, since these spirits which are called astrals, have no force, and cannot exercise the least control. Born of the emanations of the body, they occupy the perisoul, or fluidic astral and magnetic bond which unites the soul to the body.
24. In this fluid, which is the magnetism of the earth, – the lowest circulus of the Fire, – and which may be more clearly denoted by the term latent light, – analogous to latent heat, – take place those changes, currents, and modifications which result and are expressed in the phenomena – of late days familiar to numbers – produced by astral spirits. Through this fluidic element are passed two currents, one refracted from above, and the other reflected from below, – one being celestial, as coming direct from the spirit, and the other terrestrial, as coming from the earth or body; and the adept must know how to distinguish the ray from reflection. When a medium, or sensitive, passes into the negative, and thence into the somnambulic state, the mind of such sensitive is controlled by the will of the magnetizer. The will of this second person directs and controls the procession and expression of the image perceived. But the magnetizer, unless an adept, will not be able to discern the true origin of the images evoked.
25. Now, in this magnetic sphere are two orders of existences. Of these orders, one is that – already mentioned – of the shades of the dead; the other consists of reflects of the living; and the difficulty of distinguishing between these two orders is, to the uninitiated, a source of error. Error of a more serious kind arises through the complex character of the astral region itself, and the variety of the grades of spirits by which every division is tenanted. Spirits of the subhuman order, moreover, are wont under control of the wish of their invokers, to personate spirits of a higher grade.
26. It will thus be seen that the elements of deception are broadly, twofold. In the first place, to enter the astral region, is not to enter the celestial; and the ray reflected from below, and which bears the imprint of the body, may easily be mistaken for the ray refracted from above, and which alone is pure and divine. In the second place, the astral region itself contains various orders of spirits, of which some only bear relation to actual souls, and the others consist of phantasmal and illusory reflects. These latter, – the astral spirits properly so called, – are in no cases entities, or intelligent personalities; but reflections, traces, echoes, or footprints of a soul which is passing, or which has passed, through the astral medium; or else they are reflections of the individual himself who beholds or who evokes them, and may thus represent an equal compound of both sensitive and magnetizer.
27. Now, the atmosphere with which a man surrounds himself, – his soul’s respiration, – affects the astral fluid. Reverberations of his own ideas come back to him. His soul’s breath colours and savors what a sensitive conveys to him. But he may also meet with contradictions, with a systematic presentation of doctrine or of counsels at variance with his own personal views, through his mind not being sufficiently positive to control all the manifestations of the electric agent. The influence of the medium, moreover, through which the words come, interposes. Or, as is often the case, a magnetic battery of thought has overcharged the elements and imparted to it a certain current. Thus, new doctrines are “in the air,” and spread like wildfire. One or two strongly positive minds give the initiative, and the impulse flies through the whole mass of latent light, correspondingly influencing all who are in relation with it.
28. The merely magnetic spirits are like mists which rise from the damp earth of low-lying lands, or vapours in high altitudes upon which if a man’s shadow falls he beholds himself as a giant. For these spirits invariably flatter and magnify a men to himself, telling one that he is, or shall be, a king, a Christ, or the wisest and most famous of mortals; and that if he will be wholly negative, and give himself up entirely to them, suppressing his own intelligence and moral sense, they will enable him to realize his utmost ambition. Being born of the fluids of the body, they are unspiritual and live of the body. And not only have they no aspirations beyond the body, but they ignore, and even deny, the existence of any sphere above their own. They speak, indeed, of God, especially under the name of Jehovah, but with complete ignorance of its meaning; and they insist on material renderings and applications of any doctrine of which they may catch the terms. They are profuse alike of promises and of menaces, and indulge freely in prophecies. But when informed of their failures they declare that even God cannot surely foresee the future, but can judge only according to apparent probabilities. Of contradictions in their own statements they are altogether unconscious; and be these gross and palpable as they may, they remain wholly unabashed by the disclosure of them. Especially are they bitter against the “Woman.” For, in her intuition of Spirit, they recognize their chief enemy. And whenever they attach themselves either to a man or to a woman, they make it their endeavour to exalt the masculine or force element, of mind or body, at the expense of the feminine element. And these, generally, are their signs. Is there anything strong? they make it weak. Is there anything wise? they make it foolish. Is there anything sublime? they distort and travesty it. And where suffered to expatiate unchecked, they descend to blasphemy and obscenity without measure, and incite to courses in turn sensuous, vicious, malicious, or cruel, encouraging to gross and luxurious living, – the flesh of animals, and stimulants being especially favourable to their production and nurture. They are the forms beheld in delirium, and are frequent agents in producing the phenomena of hysteria. They are the authors, too, of those hasty impulses by yielding to which people do in a moment mischief which a lifetime cannot efface or repair. And, as they live upon the vital spirits of the blood, they deplete the vital energy, and are as vampires to those upon whom they fasten. They are able, moreover, to carry elsewhere the knowledge they get from any one; – being the “powers of the air” spoken of in Scripture, and the “bird that carries the voice and tells the matter.” For the term rendered “bird” signifies a winged creature, and implies an astral. Hence one of the reasons for observing secrecy concerning Sacred Mysteries. For, by seeming to have knowledge of these, the astrals are able to persuade and mislead people, mixing up a little truth with dangerous error, and getting the error accepted on the strength of the truth, or of some Divine name or phrase with which they associate it, themselves being ignorant of its import. Being impersonal, they have no organon of knowledge, for this is of Soul, and the astrals have no positive existence, but subsist subjectively in human beings. Having no souls, they are not individuals, and have no idea of right and wrong, true and false, but, like a mirror, reflect what comes before them, and, in reflecting, reverse it. Catching any prominent quality in a person’s mind they make the most of it by reflecting and magnifying it. Hence they are not to be heeded. We must heed only the God within. Of the enormous ladder within us, at the apex of which is the Absolute, these magnetic phantasmagoria are at the base.
29. Unable to grasp or conceive of anything beyond the atmosphere of their own circle, the astral phantoms – unless under the influence of a strongly positive mind – deny altogether the existence of the upper dualism, which, with the lower, constitutes man a fourfold being. They assert, indeed, that man consists of body and soul; but they mean thereby the material body and earthly mind, and represent these as constituting the man. The soul and spirit, which are really the man, have for them no existence; and they usually refuse, in consequence, to admit the doctrine of Transmigration or Reincarnation. For, as they are aware, the body and perisoul perish, and the anima bruta cannot transmigrate or become reincarnate Their inability to recognize the soul and spirit, leads them to deny the existence of any source of knowledge superior to themselves, and to assert that they themselves are man’s true and only inspiring spirits and guardian angels. And one of their favourite devices consists in building up, out of the magnetic emanations of the individual, a form which they present as his own “counterpartal angel” and divine spirit, from whom, say they, he was separated in what – affecting Scripture phraseology – they call the Adamic period of his being, and by reunion with which he attains his final perfection. In this they travesty at once the doctrine of that divine marriage between soul and spirit, which, occurring in the individual, constitutes his final perfection, or Nirvana; and the relations of the genius, or true guardian angel, with his client. For, being unintelligent, they fail to perceive that perfection is to be attained, not by accretion or addition from without, but only by development or unfoldment from within. Thus the process itself of regeneration, becomes altogether an absurdity in their hands. And in this, as in all other matters, the object of the astrals is to obtain all credit and support for their own order, by substituting for the Spirit a spirit, and this one of themselves.
30. It is to astral instigation, generally, that are due the various communities and sects which have for their basis some peculiar relation between the sexes. That modern form of the cultus of what is called “Free Love,” which sets forth, not the human, but the female body as the temple of God, and with this couples the doctrine of “counterpartal angels,” is entirely of astral contrivance. And so also is the notion, far from uncommon, that by abjuring the ordinary marriage relation, and devoting herself wholly to her astral associate, a woman may in the most literal sense, become an immaculate mother of Christs. It is to their materialization of this and other doctrines, which properly are spiritual only, – and, notably, as will by and by be shown of the doctrine of Vicarious Atonement, – that is due the degradation of Christianity from a spiritual to a materialistic, and therein to an idolatrous religion, and its consequent failure, thus far, to accomplish its intended end. But of this more on a future occasion. It is sufficient to add here in this connection, that, not in doctrine only, but also in practice, – as in the formation of habits of life, – astral influence is always exerted in the direction of the gross, the selfish and the cruel. It is always the influence under which men, whether they be conscious of it or not, lower the standard of their conduct, and seek their own gratification at the cost of others. Of those hideous blots upon modern life, the frequent sins of violence, greed, and intemperance, the astrals are active promoters. And to them is due in no small degree that extension of the doctrine of vicarious sacrifice – originally their own invention – from the sacerdotal to the social and scientific planes, which has made of Christendom little else than a vast slaughterhouse and chamber of torture. No less than the priest of a sacrificial religion, are the butcher, the sportsman, and the vivisector, ministers to the astral in man. Nevertheless, though thus indictable, these spirits are not in themselves evil. They do but reflect and magnify the evil which men harbour and encourage in themselves.
31. It is characteristic of the astrals, that always strenuously insist on the most absolute passivity on the part of those whom they influence or address. This condition of unintelligent passivity must be carefully distinguished from the reasonable reflective state favourable to divine communion, and called the “Night-time of the Soul.” Such is the unsubstantiality of the astrals, that the smallest exercise of an adverse will throws them into confusion and deprives them of the power of utterance. They shun a person in whom the flame of the spirit burns up straightly and ardently; but where it spreads out and is diffused, they flock round him like moths. The more negative the mind and weak the will of the person, the more apt and ready he is to receive them. And the more positive his mind and pronounced his will, – in the right direction, – the more open he is to Divine communication. The kingdom of the Within yields, not to indifference and inaction, but to enthusiasm and concentration. Wherefore it is said, “To labour is to pray; to ask is to receive; to knock is to have the door open.” When we think inwardly, pray intensely, and imagine centrally, then we converse with God. When we allow ourselves to be inert and mechanically reflective, then we are at the mercy of the astrals, and ready to accept any absurdity as divine truth.
32. The astrals, it will be useful to many to be assured, not only cannot confer the Divine life, they cannot rise to be partakers of it themselves. In describing them, the exigencies of language compel the use of terms implying personality. But it must be clearly understood that these “spirits” are mere vehicles, and are no more possessed of independent volition or motive than is the electric current by which telegraphic messages are conveyed, and which, like them, is a medium of thought; or than the air, which, according to circumstances, transmits the germs of health or of disease. Thus, although they are not intelligent personalities, they are often the media of intelligent ideas, and operate as means of communication between intelligent personalities. Ideas, words, sentences, whole systems of philosophy, may be borne in on the consciousness by means of the currents of magnetic force, as solid bodies are conveyed on a stream, though water is no intelligent agent. The minutest cell is an entity, for it has the power of self-propagation, which the astral has not.
33. Few are they, even of the highest orders of mind, who have not at times fallen under astral influence, and with disastrous results. And herein we have the key, not only to the anomalies of various systems, otherwise admirable, of philosophy and religion, but also to those discordant utterances of the most pious mystics, which have so sorely perplexed and distressed their followers. When we have named a Plato, a Philo, a Paul, a Milton, and a Bœhme, as conspicuous instances in point, enough will have been said to indicate the vastness of the field to which the suggestion applies. Few, indeed, are they who can always find the force to penetrate through the astral and dwell solely in the celestial. Hence, for the true ray refracted from above, men mistake and substitute the false ray reflected from below, foul with the taint of earth, and savouring of the limitations of the lower nature, and, like the image in the glass, exactly reversing the truth. Wherever we find a systematic depreciation of woman, advocacy of bloodshed, and materialization of things spiritual, there, we may be confident, does astral influence prevail. The profound Bœhme frankly admits his own liability in this respect.
34. Though inhabiting the astral region, the spirits called elemental or nature-spirits, and presiding spirits or genii loci, are of very different orders from those just described. Of this last class are the spirits known to all early nations as haunting forests, mountains, cataracts, rivers, and all unfrequented places. They are the dryads, naiads, kelpis, elves, fairies, and so forth. The elementals are often mysterious, terrifying, and dangerous. They are the spirits invoked by the Rosicrucians and mediaeval magicians, and also by some in the present day. They respond to pentagrams and other symbols, and it is dangerous even to name them at certain times and places. The most powerful of them are the salamanders, or fire-spirits. The ability of the elementals to produce physical phenomena, and their lack of moral sense, render them dangerous. In this they differ from the celestial spirits, for to these no physical demonstration is possible, as they do not come into contact with Matter.
35. The marvels of the adept are performed chiefly through the agency of the elementals. And it was the knowledge of and belief in them, on the part of the centurion in the gospels, that elicted from Jesus his expression of surprise, “I have not found such faith even in Israel.” For the centurion’s reply had indicated his recognition of the fact that, just as he himself had soldiers under him to do his bidding, so Jesus had spirits under him. Others than adepts may be, and are, thus associated with the elementals; but only for one who, like an adept, has first purified and perfected himself in mind and spirit, is the association free from danger to himself or to others. Where not mastered, they become masters, and exact absolute subservience, showing themselves pitiless in the infliction of vengeance for disobedience to their behests.
36. To this order and sphere belong the class called by the Hebrews cherubim. They inhabit the “upper astral” immediately outside and below the celestial; and are the “covering angels,” who encompass and guard the sanctuary of the innermost of man’s system, the “holy of holies” of his own soul and spirit. Passing, by their permission, within the sacred precincts, we enter the presence of the celestials, of whom now we will speak.
37. BUT first, in order to comprehend the procession of Spirit, it should be explained that Life may be represented by a triangle, at the apex of which is God. Of this triangle the two sides are formed by two streams, the one flowing outwards, the other upwards. The base may be taken to represent the material plane. Thus, from God proceed the Gods, the Elohim, or divine powers, who are the active agents of creation. From the Gods proceed all the hierarchy of heaven, with the various orders from the highest to the lowest. And the lowest are the orders of the genii, or guardian angels. These rest on the astral plane, but do not enter it. The other side of the triangle is a continuation of the base. And herein is the significance alike of the pyramid and of the obelisk. The pyramid represents the triangle of Life, fourfold, and resting on the earth. The obelisk, the summit only of which is pyramidal, represents a continuation of the base, and is covered with sculptured forms of animal life. For, of this base of the triangle of life, the continuation contains the lowest expressions of life, the first expressions of incarnation, and of the stream which, unlike the first, flows inwards and upwards. The side of the triangle represented by this stream, culminates in the Christ, and empties itself into pure Spirit, which is God. There are, consequently, spirits which by their natures never have been and never can be incarnate; and there are others which reach their perfection through incarnation. And the genii, dæmons, or guardian angels, have nothing in common with the astrals, but are altogether different and superior in kind. Standing, as they do, within the celestial sphere, their function is to lift man from below to their own high region, which, properly, is also his.
38. The day and night of the Microcosm, man, are its projective and reflective states. In the projective state we seek actively outwards; we aspire and will forcibly; we hold active communion with the God without.
39. In the reflective state we look inwards, we commune with our own heart; we indraw and concentrate ourselves secretly and interiorly. During this condition the “Moon” enlightens our hidden chamber with her torch, and shows us ourselves in our interior recess.
40. Who or what, then, is this Moon? It is part of ourselves, and revolves with us. It is our celestial affinity, – of whose order it is said, “Their angels do always behold the face of My Father.”
41. Every human soul has a celestial affinity, which is part of his system and a type of his spiritual nature. This angelic counterpart is the bond of union between the man and God; and it is in virtue of his spiritual nature that this angel is attached to him. Rudimentary creatures have no celestial affinity; but from the moment that the soul quickens, the cord of union is established.
42. The Genius of a man is this satellite. Man is a planet. God, – the God of the man – is its sun. And the moon of this planet is Isis, its initiator, angel or genius. The genius ministers to the man, and gives him light. But the light he gives is from God, and not of himself. He is not a planet but a moon; and his function is to light up the dark places of his planet.
43. It is in virtue of man’s being a planet that he has a moon. If he were not fourfold, as is the planet, he could not have one. Rudimentary men are not fourfold. They have not the Spirit.
44. Every human spirit-soul has attached to him a genius, variously called, by Socrates, a dæmon; by Jesus an angel; by the apostles, a ministering spirit. All these are but different names for the same thing.
45. The genius is linked to his client by a bond of soul-substance. Persistent ill-living weakens this bond; and after several incarnations, – even to the mystical seventy times seven, – thus ill-spent, the genius is freed, and the soul definitively lost.
46. The genius knows well only the things relating to the person to whom he ministers. About other things he has opinions only. The relation of the ministering spirit to his client, is very well represented by that of the Catholic confessor to his penitent. He is bound to keep towards every penitent profound secrecy as regards the affairs of other souls. If this were not the case, there would be no order, and no secret would be safe. The genius of each one knows about another person only so much as that other’s genius chooses to reveal.
47. The genius is the moon to the planet man, reflecting to him the sun, or God, within him. For the divine Spirit which animates and eternizes the man, is the God of the man, the sun that enlightens him. And this sun it is, and not the outer and planetary man, that his genius, as satellite, reflects to him. Thus attached to the planet, the genius is the complement of the man; and his “sex” is always the converse of the planet’s. And because he reflects, not the planet, but the sun, not the man (as do the astrals), but the God, his light is always to be trusted.
48. The genius never “controls” his client, never suffers the soul to step aside from the body, to allow the entrance of another spirit. The person “controlled” by an astral or elementary, on the contrary, speaks not in his own person, but in that of the spirit operating. And the gestures, expression, intonation, and pitch of voice, change with the obsessing spirit. A person prophesying speaks always in the first person, and says, either, “Thus saith the Lord,” or, “So says some one else,” never losing his own personality.
49. The genii are not fighting spirits, and cannot prevent evils. They were allowed to minister to Jesus only after his exhaustion in combat with the lower spirits. Only they are attacked by these, who are worth attacking. No man ever got to the promised land without going through the desert. The best weapon against them is prayer. Prayer means the intense direction of the will and desire towards the Highest, an unchanging intent to know nothing but the Highest. So long as Moses held his hands up towards heaven, the Israelites prevailed; when he dropped them, then the Amalekites.
50. Now, there are two kinds of memory, the memory of the organism and the memory of the soul. The first is possessed by all creatures. The second, which is obtained by Recovery, be longs to the fully regenerate man. For the Divine Spirit of a man is not one with his soul until regeneration, which is the intimate union constituting what, mystically, is called the “marriage” of the hierophant, an event in the life of the initiate, one of the stages of which is set forth in the parable of the Marriage in Cana of Galilee.
51. When this union takes place, there is no longer need of an initiator; for then the office of the genius is ended. For, as the moon, or Isis, of the planet man, the genius reflects to the Soul the Divine Spirit, with which she is not yet fully united. In all things is order. Wherefore, as with the planets, so with the Microcosm. They who are nearest Divinity, need no moon. But so long as they have night, – so long, that is, as any part of the soul remains unilluminated, and her memory or perception obscure, – so long, the mirror of the angel continues to reflect the sun to the soul.
52. For the memory of the soul is recovered by a threefold operation – that of the soul herself, of the moon, and of the sun. The genius is not an informing spirit. He can tell nothing to the soul. All that she receives is already hers. But in the darkness of the night, it would remain undiscovered, but for the torch of the angel who enlightens. “Yea,” says the angel genius to his client, “I illuminate thee, but I instruct thee not. I warn thee, but I fight not. I attend, but I lead not. Thy treasure is within thyself. My light showeth where it lieth.” (Respecting the complete, final recovery of memory, see Appendice. No.II.)
53. When regeneration is fully attained, the divine Spirit alone instructs the hierophant. “For the gates of his city shall never be shut; there shall be no night there, the night shall be no more. And they shall not need the light of the lamp, because the Lord God shall enlighten them.” The prophet is a man illumined by his angel. The Christ is a man married to his Spirit. And he returns out of pure love to redeem, needing no more to return to the flesh for his own sake. Wherefore he baptizes with the holy Ghost, and with the Divine Fire itself. He is always “in heaven.” And in that he ascends, it is because the Spirit uplifts him, even the Spirit who descends upon him. “And in that he descends, it is because he has first ascended beyond all spheres into the highest Presence. For he that ascends, ascends because he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth. He that descended is the same also who ascended above all the heavens, to fill all things.” Such an one returns, therefore, from a higher world; he belongs no more to the domain of Earth. But he comes from the sun itself, or from some nearer sphere to the sun than ours; having passed from the lowest upwards.
54. And what, it will be asked, of the genius himself? Is he sorry when his client attains Perfection, and needs him no more?
“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom. And he that standeth by rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.” The genius, therefore, returns to his source, for his mission is ended, and his Sabbath is come. He is one with the Twain.
55. The genius, then, remains with his client so long as the man is fourfold. A beast has no genius. A Christ has none. For first, all is latent light. That is one. And this one becomes two, that is, body and astral body. And these two become three; that is, a rational soul is born in the midst of the astral body. This rational soul is the person; itself dual, in virtue of its earthly and its divine parts. And from that moment this personality is an individual existence, as a plant or as an animal. These three become four; that is, human. And the fourth is the Nous, not yet one with the soul, but overshadowing it, and transmitting light as it were through a glass, that is, through the initiator. But when the four become three, – that is, when the “marriage” takes place, and the soul and the spirit are indissolubly united, – there is no longer need either of migration or of genius. For the Nous has become one with the soul, and the cord of union is dissolved. And yet again, the three become twain at the dissolution of the body; and again, the twain become one, that is, the Christ-spirit-soul. The Divine Spirit and the genius, therefore, are not to be regarded as diverse, nor yet as identical. The genius is flame, and is celestial, that is, he is Spirit, and one in nature with the Divine; for his light is the Divine Light. He is as a glass, as a cord, as a bond between the soul and her divine part. He is the clear atmosphere through which the divine ray passes, making a path for it in the astral medium.
56. In the celestial plane, all things are personal. And therefore the bond between the soul and spirit is a person. But when a man is what is mystically called “born again,” he no longer needs the bond which unites him to his Divine Source. The genius, or flame, therefore, returns to that Source; and this being itself united to the soul, the genius also becomes one with the Twain. For the genius is the Divine Light in the sense that he is but a divided tongue of it, having no isolating vehicle. But the tincture of this flame differs according to the celestial atmosphere of the particular soul. The Divine Light, indeed, is white, being Seven in One. But the genius is the flame of a single colour only. And this colour he takes from the soul, and by that ray transmits to her the light of the Nous, her Divine Spouse. The angel-genii are of all the tinctures of all the colours
57. While in the celestial plane all things are persons, in the astral plane they are reflects, or at most impersonal. The genius is a person because he is a celestial, and of soul-spirit, or substantial nature. But the astrals are of fluidic nature, having no personal part. In the celestial plane, spirit and substance are one, dual in unity; and thus are all celestials constituted. But in the astral plane they have no individual, and no divine part. They are protoplasmic only, without either nucleus or nucleolus.
58. The voice of the angel-genius is the voice of God; for God speaks through him as a man through the horn of a trumpet. He may not be adored; for he is the instrument of God, and man’s minister. But he must be obeyed; for he has no voice of his own, but shows the will of the Spirit.
59. They, therefore, who desire the Highest, will not seek to “controls;” but will keep their temple – which is their body – for the Lord God of Hosts; and will turn out of it the moneychangers and the dove-sellers and the dealers in curious arts, yea, with a scourge of cords, if need be.
60. Of the superior orders in the celestial hierarchy – of those, that is, who, being Gods and Archangels, are to the Supreme Spirit as the seven rays of the prism are to light, and the seven notes of the scale are to sound – the knowledge appertains to the Greater Mysteries, and is reserved for those who have fulfilled the conditions requisite for initiation therein. (See Appendices, No. III. Part 1.) Of those conditions the first is the complete renunciation of a diet of flesh, the reason being fourfold, – spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical, – according to the fourfold constitution of man. This is imperative. Man cannot receive, the Gods will not impart the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven on other terms. The conditions are God’s; the will is with man.
LECTURE THE FOURTH.
1. WE have chosen to speak thus early in our series of the doctrine of the Atonement, because it is that around which all religious teaching, ancient and modern, pure and corrupt, is alike grouped, and in which it all centres. Constituting thus the pivot and point of radiation of Religion itself, this doctrine, expounded in its pure and ancient sense, is at once the glory of the saint and the hope of the fallen; expounded in its modern and corrupt sense, it is to the latter a license, and to the former a shame and perplexity.
2. As will by-and-by be fully shown, sacred Mysteries are, like all things cosmic, fourfold, in that they contain, like the whorls of a flower, or the elements of an organic cell, four mutually related and yet distinct Modes and Ideas. And these four are – from without inwards – the Physical, the Intellectual, the Ethical, and the Spiritual. We propose in this lecture to explain the doctrine of the Atonement from each of these points of view, in order to do which with clearness and without fear of misapprehension, we shall first expose the common errors in regard to it.
3. The popular and corrupt view of the doctrine of the Atonement presents us with one of the most salient examples extant of that materialism in things religious, which constitutes Idolatry. To commit the sin of Idolatry is to materialize Spiritual Truth, by concealing under gross images the real substantial Ideas implied, and setting up the images for worship in place of the celestial verities. Now, the current doctrine of Christ’s Atonement starts with the irrational, and therefore false, hypothesis, that between physical blood and moral guilt there is a direct and congruous relation, in virtue of which the opening of veins and laceration of muscular tissue constitute a medium of exchange by which may be ransomed an indefinite number of otherwise forfeited souls.
4. In opposition to this and other kindred conceptions, it is necessary to insist on the principle which, being, so to speak, the cornerstone and center of gravitation of Religion, was in our Introductory Lecture prominently placed before the reader, – the principle that sacred Mysteries relate only to the Soul, and have no concern with phenomena or any physical appearances or transactions. The keynote of Religion is sounded in the words, “My kingdom is not of this world.” All her mysteries, all her oracles, are conceived in this spirit, and similarly are all sacred scriptures to be interpreted. For anything in Religion to be true and strong, it must be true and strong for the Soul. The Soul is the true and only person concerned; and any relation which Religion may have to the body or phenomena man, is indirect, and by, correspondence only. It is for the Soul that the Divine Word is written; and it is her nature, her history, her functions, her conflicts, her redemption, which are ever the theme of sacred narrative, prophecy, and doctrine.
5. But a priesthood fallen from the apprehension of spiritual things, and only competent, therefore, to discern the things of sense – a priesthood become, in a word, idolatrous, – is necessarily incapable of attaining to the level of the original framers of the Mysteries appertaining to the Soul; and therefore it is that invariably in the hands of, such priesthood, the Soul has been ignored in favour of the body, and a signification grossly materialistic substituted for that which had been addressed only to the spiritual man.
6. To the thoughtful mind there is nothing more perplexing than the doctrine and practice of bloody sacrifice, commonly believed to be inculcated in that portion of the Hebrew scriptures which is known as the Pentateuch. And the perplexity is increased by a comparison of this with the prophetical books in which occur such utterances as the following:
“Sacrifice and oblation Thou dost not desire: but Thou hast opened ears for me.
“Burnt-offering and sin-offering Thou wouldest not; but that I should come to do Thy Will.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a lowly and contrite heart, O God.”
And, yet more emphatically and indignantly, the prophet Isaias:
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom, give ear to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
“To what purpose do you offer me the multitude of your victims? saith the Lord. I desire not holocausts of rams and fatlings, the blood of calves, and sheep, and goats.
“When you come to appear before Me, who hath required these things at your hands?
“Offer sacrifice no more, your new moons and festivals I cannot abide; your assemblies are wicked.
“My soul hateth your solemnities, when you stretch forth your hands I turn away Mine eyes, for your hands are full of blood.”
And again Jeremias;
“I, the Lord, spake not to your fathers, and I commanded them not in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning the matter of burnt-offerings and sacrifices.
“But this one thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken to My voice, and walk in My way.
“But they have set their abominations in the house that is called by My Name, to pollute it.”
7. In the presence of these truly Divine words, what must be our verdict upon certain contrary declarations and prescriptions in the Pentateuch? We must say, as indeed all sound criticism and inference based on careful examination of internal evidence justify us in saying, that the greater part of the Five Books, and especially the chapters prescriptive of ritual and oblations, are of far later date than that usually assigned to them, and are not in any sense the work of the inspired Moses, or of his initiates and immediate successors, but of a corrupted priesthood, in the age of the kings, – a priesthood greedy of gifts, tithes, and perquisites; ever replacing the spirit by the letter, and the idea by the symbol; ignorant of the nature of Man, and therefore ever trampling under foot his true and better self, the Soul, whose type is Woman; “taking away the key of knowledge, entering not themselves into the Kingdom, and hindering those who would have entered.” But for these bloody and idolatrous sacrifices, there would have been neither occupation nor maintenance for the numerous ecclesiastics who subsisted by means of them; and but for the false and corrupt conception of a God whose just anger was capable of being appeased by slaughter, – and this of the innocent, – and whose favour could be bought by material gifts, the whole colossal scheme of ceremonial rites and incantations which gave the priesthood power and dominion over the people, would never have found place in a system originally addressed wholly to the needs of the Soul. (See Appendices, No. I., Part II.)
Thus, even with the Old Testament alone as evidence, our verdict must be given to the Prophet as against the Priest, seeing that while the former, as the true Man of God directed his appeal to the soul, the latter as the minister of sense, cared only to exalt his own Order, no matter at what cost to the principles of religion.
8. Turning to the New Testament, a significant fact confronts us. It is that Jesus appears never to have sanctioned by his presence any of the Temple services; an abstention which cannot but be regarded as a tacit protest against the sacrificial rites then in vogue. Nor in all the utterances ascribed to him is there any reference to these rites even in connection with the common belief that they were designed as types of the death supposed to be ordained for the Messiah in his character of Redeemer and Victim.
9. And truly, it is inconceivable that if the special object and end of his incarnation had been, as is currently held, to be immolated on the Cross, a spotless sin-offering for men, in propitiation of the wrath of God against the guilty, no word implying a doctrine so essential and tremendous should have been uttered by the Divine Victim himself, or that it should have been left to the commentators of a century later notably to men who were never the immediate disciples of Jesus, – Paul and Apollos, – to formulate and expound it. Nor can we regard as other than fatuous the conduct of a priesthood, which, while throwing upon the Cross of Calvary the burdens of the salvation of the whole world in all ages, and teaching mankind that to the innocent sacrifice thereon offered is alone due their rescue from eternal damnation, yet sees fit to execrate and brand with infamy the very men who procured the consummation of that sacrifice, – and to whom, therefore, next to Jesus himself, the world is indebted for ransom from hell, and for the opening of the gates of heaven, – Caiaphas Pontius Pilate, and – most important of all – Judas the traitor!
10. The truth is, that far from depicting Priest and Prophet as co-operating for the welfare of man, the sacred scriptures exhibit them in constant conflict; – the Priest, as the minister of Sense, perpetually undoing the work performed by the Prophet as the minister of the Intuition. And so it is seen that when, at length, the greatest of all the prophetical race appears, the priesthood does not fail to compass his death also, and subsequently to exalt the crime into a sacrifice, and that of such a nature as to render it the apotheosis of the whole sacerdotal system, and to advance the sacerdotal order to the position which, throughout Christendom, it has ever since maintained.
11. AT this point another aspect of our subject claims attention. It relates, not to any particular sacrifice, but to the whole question of the origin and nature of bloody sacrifices generally. And it involves reference to influences and motives yet darker and more potent than any mere human desire of gain or power, in exposing which, it will be necessary to speak of occult subjects, unfamiliar, save to those, who, being acquainted with the science of magic, understand at least something of the nature and conditions of “spiritual” apparitions.
12. The effusion of physical blood has, in all ages, been a means whereby magicians have evoked astral phantoms or phantasmagoric reflects in the magnetic light. These efflorescences of the lower atmosphere immediately related to the body, have a direct affinity for the essential element, called by the old physiologists, the “vital spirits,” of the blood, and are enabled by means of its effusion to manifest themselves materially. Thus, as one recent writer says, “Blood begets phantoms, and its emanations furnish certain spirits with the materials requisite to fashion their temporary appearances.” (Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled.) Another speaks of blood as “the first incarnation of the universal fluid, materialized vital light; the arcanum of physical life.” (Eliphas Levi, La Haute Magie.) The famous Paracelsus also asserts that by the fumes of blood one is able to call forth any spirit desired, for by its emanations the spirit can build for itself a visible body. This, he says, is Sorcery, a term always of ill-repute. The hierophants of Baal made incisions all over their bodies, in order to produce visible objective phantoms. There are sects in the East, especially in Persia, whose devotees celebrate religious orgies in which, whirling frantically round in a ring, they wound themselves and each other with knives, until their garments and the ground are soaked with blood. Before the end of the orgy, every man has evoked a spectral companion which whirls round with him, and which may sometimes be distinguished from the devotee by having hair on its head, the devotees being closely shorn. The Yakuts of Eastern Siberia still maintain the practice of the once famed witches of Thessaly, offering nocturnal sacrifices and evoking evil spectres to work mischief for them. Without the fumes of blood these beings could not become visible; and were they deprived of it, they would, the Yakuts believe, suck it, from the veins of the living. It is further held by these people that good spirits do not thus manifest themselves to view, but merely make their presence felt, and require no preparatory ceremonial. The Yezidis, inhabiting Armenia, and Syria, hold intercourse with certain aerial spirits which they call Jakshas, – probably mere astral phantoms, – and evoke them by means of whirling dances, accompanied, as in the case of the sect already mentioned, by self-inflicted wounds. Among the manifestations thus obtained is the apparition of enormous globes of fire, which gradually assume grotesque and uncouth animal forms. (Lady Hester Stanhope.)
13. Reverting to earlier times, we find in the writings of Epiphanius, a passage concerning the death of Zacharias, which bears directly on the Levitical practice in regard to this subject. He says that Zacharias, having seen a vision in the Temple, and being, through surprise, about to disclose it, was suddenly and mysteriously deprived of the power of speech. He had seen at the time of offering incense after the evening sacrifice, a figure in the form of an ass, standing by the altar. Going out to the people, he exclaimed, – “Woe unto you! who do ye worship?” and immediately “he who had appeared to him in the Temple struck him with dumbness.” Afterwards, however, he recovered his speech and related the vision, in consequence of which indiscretion the priests slew him. It was asserted by the Gnostics that the use of the little bells attached to the garments of the high-priest was enjoined by the Jewish ordinance-makers with special reference to these apparitions, in order that on his entry into the sanctuary at the time of sacrifice, the goblins might have warning of his approach in time to avoid being caught in their natural hideous shapes.
14. An experience of the writer’s during the summer of the present year, strikingly illustrates the foregoing citations. Conducted in magnetic sleep by her guardian Genius into a large hall of temple-like structure, she beheld a number of persons grouped in adoration around four altars upon which were laid as many slaughtered bullocks. And above the altars, in the fume of the spirits of the blood arising from the slain beasts, were misty colossal figures, half-formed only, from the waist upwards, and resembling the Gods. One of them in particular attracted the writer’s attention. It was the head and bust of a woman of enormous proportions, and wearing the insignia of Diana. And the Genius said: “These are the Astral Spirits, and thus will do until the end of the world.”
Such were the spurious phantom-images, which, with emaciated forms and pallid countenances, presented themselves to the Emperor Julian, and, claiming to be the veritable Immortals, commanded him to renew the sacrifices, for the fumes of which, since the establishment of Christianity, they had been pining. And he, able only to see, but not to discern, spirits, took these spectres – as so many still do – for what they pretended to be, and, seeking to fulfil their behests, earned for himself the title of “Apostate.” To the impulsion of spirits of this order are to be ascribed those horrible human sacrifices of which in ancient times Canaan was the chief scene and Molech the chief recipient. In these sacrifices the Jews themselves largely indulged, the crowning example being that of which the high priest Caiaphas was the prompter.
15. But idolatry and bloody sacrifice have ever been held in abhorrence by the true prophet and the true redeemer. The aspect under which these things present themselves to the eyes of such men is epitomized in the divine and beautiful rebuke addressed by Gautama Buddha to the priests of his day, for an exquisite rendering of which the reader is referred to Mr. Edwin Arnold’s recent poem, “The Light of Asia.” (p.129ss. The appearance of this remarkable book constitutes a sign of the times of no small importance.) Buddha, it will be observed, classed with the practice of bloody sacrifice the habit of flesh-eating, and included both in his unsparing denunciation. The reason is not far to seek. Man, as the Microcosm, resembles in all things the Macrocosm, and like the latter, therefore, he comprises within his own system an astral plane or circulus. In eating flesh, and thereby ingesting the blood principle, – flesh and blood being inseparable, – he sacrifices to the astral emanations of his own magnetic atmosphere, and so doing, ministers to the terrene and corruptible. This is to “eat of things offered to idols,” for blood is the food of the astral eidola, and the eater of blood is infested by them.
16. It should be observed that this astral medium and its emanations are incapable of originating ideas, for these are positive entities and come from the celestial or spiritual “heaven.” The astral, being reflective merely, and unsubstantial, receives divine ideas but to reverse and travesty them. Thus, the doctrine of sacrifice and of atonement are true doctrines, and celestial origin; but the sacrifice must be of the lower human self to the higher divine self, and of personal extraneous affections to the love of God and of principles. But the astral mind, reversing the truth, converts these aspirations into the sacrifice of the higher to the lower nature, of the soul to the body, and of others to oneself. Again, the truth that man is saved by the perpetual sacrifice of God’s own Life and Spirit to be his life and spirit, finds a like distortion in the notion that man is saved by taking the life of a God and appropriating his merits. The true meaning of the word “atonement” is reconciliation, rather than “propitiation.” For “Heaven” cannot be “propitiated” save by at-one-ment.
17. As, moreover, the astral and the physical planes are intimately united, and both are ephemeral and evanescent, of Time and of Matter, that which feeds and ministers to the astral stimulates the physical, to its own detriment and that of the inner and permanent Twain, – soul and spirit, – the true man and his Divine Particle, – since these, being celestial, have neither part nor communion with the merely phenomenal and phantasmal. For the astral emanations resemble clouds which occupy the earthy atmosphere between us and heaven, and which, filmy and incorporeal though they be, are nevertheless material, and are born of the exhalations of the earth. To perpetuate and do sacrifice to these phantoms, is to thicken the atmosphere, to obscure the sky, to gather fog and darkness and tempest about us, as did the old storm-witches of the North.
Such is that worship which is spoken of as the worship of the Serpent of the Dust; and thus does he who ingests blood; for he makes thereby oblation to the infernal gods of his own system, as does the sacrificing priest to the powers of the same sphere of the Macrocosm.
18. And this occult reason for abstaining from the ingestion of flesh, is that which in all ages and under all creeds has ever powerfully and universally influenced the Recluse, the Saint, and the Adept in Religion. As is well known, the use of flesh was in former time, invariably abjured by the hermit-fathers, by the ascetics of both East and West, and in short by all religious persons, male and female, who, aspiring after complete detachment from the things of sense, sought interior vision and intimate union with the Divine; and it is now similarly abjured by the higher devotional orders of the Catholic Church and of Oriental adepts.
Let us say boldly, and without fear of contradiction from those who really know, that the Interior Life and the clear Heaven are not attainable by men who are partakers of blood; – men whose mental atmosphere is thick with the fumes of daily sacrifices to idols. For so long as these shadows infest the Man, obscuring the expanse of the higher and divine Ether beyond, he remains unable to detach himself from the love for Matter and from the attraction of Sense, and can at best but dimly discern the Light of the Spiritual Sun.
19. Abstinence from bloody oblations on all planes, is therefore the gate of the Perfect Way, the test of illumination, the touchstone and criterion of sincere desire for the fullness of Beatific Vision.
The Holy Grail, the New Wine of God’s Kingdom on which all souls must drink if they would live forever and in whose cleansing tide their garments must be made white, is, most assuredly not that plasmic humour of the physical body, common to all grades of material life, which is known to us under the name of blood. But, as this physical humour is the life of the phenomenal body, so is the blood of Christ the Life of the Soul, and it is in this interior sense, which is alone related to the Soul, that the word is used by those who framed the expression of the Mysteries.
20. THIS brings us to speak of what the Atonement is, and of the sense in which we are to understand it, in its fourfold interpretation.
First, let us remind the reader, the Cross and the Crucified are symbols which come down to us from pre-historic ages, and are to be found depicted on the ruined monuments, temples, and sarcophagi of all nations, – Coptic, Ethiopian, Hindu, Mexican, Tartar. In the rites of all these peoples, and especially in the ceremonials of initiation field in the Lodges of their Mysteries, the Cross had a prominent place. It was traced on the forehead of the neophyte with water or oil, as now in Catholic Baptism and Confirmation; it was broidered on the sacred vestments, and carried in the hand of the officiating hierophant, as may be seen in all the Egyptian religious tablets. And this symbolism has been adopted by and incorporated into the Christian theosophy, not, however, through a tradition merely imitative, but because the Crucifixion is an essential element in the career of the Christ. For, as says the Master, expounding the secret of Messiahship, “Ought not the Christ to suffer these things, and so to enter into his glory?” Yes, for this Cross of Christ – the spiritual Phoebus, – is made by the sun’s equinoctial passage across the line of the Ecliptic, – a passage which points on the one hand to the descent into Hades; and on the other to the ascent into the kingdom of Zeus the Father. It is the Tree of Life; the Mystery of the Dual Nature, male and female; the Symbol of. Humanity perfected, and of the Apotheosis of Suffering. It is traced by “our Lord the Sun” on the plane of the heavens; it is represented by the magnetic and diamagnetic forces of the earth; it is seen in the ice-crystal and in the snow-flake; the human form itself is modeled upon its pattern; and all nature bears throughout her manifold spheres the impress of this sign, at once the prophecy and the instrument of her redemption.
21. Fourfold in meaning, having four points, and making four angles, dividing the circle into four equal parts, the cross portrays the perfect union, balance, equality, and at-one-ment on all four planes, and in all four worlds – phenomenal, intellectual, psychic, and celestial – of the Man and the Woman, the Spirit and the Bride. It is supremely, transcendently, and excellently, the symbol of the Divine Marriage; that is, the Sign of the Son of Man IN HEAVEN. For the Divine Marriage is consummated only when the Regenerate Man enters the Kingdom of the Celestial, which is within. When the Without is as the Within, and the Twain are as One in Christ Jesus.
22. Being thus the key of all the worlds, from the outer to the inner, the Cross presents, as it were, four wards or significations; and according to these, the mystery of the Crucifixion bears relation:
First, to the natural and actual sense, and typifies the Crucifixion of the Man of God by the world.
Secondly, to the intellectual and philosophical sense; and typifies the Crucifixion in man of the lower nature.
Thirdly, to the personal and sacrificial sense, and symbolizes the Passion and Oblation of the Redeemer.
Fourthly, to the celestial and creative sense, and represents the Oblation of God for the Universe.
23. First in order, from without inwards, the Crucifixion of the Man of God implies that persistent attitude of scorn, distrust, and menace with which the Ideal and Substantial is always met by the worldly and superficial, and to the malignant expression of which ill-will the Idealist is always exposed. We have noted that Isaias, rebuking the materialists for their impure and cruel rites, addresses them as “rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah.” So likewise, the Seer of the Apocalypse speaks of the two divine Witnesses as slain “in the streets of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also the Lord was crucified.” This city, then, is the world, the materializing, the idolatrous, the blind, the sensual, the unreal; the house of bondage, out of which the sons of God are called. And the world being all these, is cruel as hell, and will always crucify the Christ and the Christ-Idea. For the world, which walks in a vain shadow, can have no part in the kingdom of heaven; the man who seeks the Within and the Beyond is to it a dotard, a fool, an impostor, a blasphemer, or a madman, and according to the sense of its verdict, it ridicules, maligns, despoils, punishes, or sequesters him. And thus every great and merciful deed, every noble life, every grand and holy name, is stamped with the hall-mark of the Cross.
Scorn and contumely and the cries of an angry crowd surround that altar on which the Son of God makes oblation of himself; and cross after cross strews the long Via Dolorosa of the narrow path that leadeth unto Life.
For indeed the world is blind, and every redemption must be purchased by blood.
24. Yes, by blood and tears and suffering, and that not of the body only; for the Son of God, to attain that Sonship, must have first crucified in himself the old Adam of the earth. This is the second meaning of the Cross; it sets forth that interior process of pain which precedes regeneration; that combat with and victory over the tempter, through which all the Christs alike have passed; the throes of travail which usher in the New-Born. And the crucified, regenerate Man, having made At-on-ment throughout his own fourfold nature, and with the Father through Christ, bears about in himself the “marks” of the Lord, – the five wounds of the five senses overcome, the “stigmata” of the saints. This crucifixion is the death of the body; the rending of the veil of the flesh; the uniting of the human will with the Divine Will; or, as it is sometimes called, the Reconciliation – which is but another word for the At-one-ment. It is the consummation of the prayer, “Let Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven;” let Thy will, O Father, be accomplished throughout the terrene and astral, even as it is in the inmost adytum, that in all the microcosmic system no other will be found than the Divine.
25. This, also, is the secret of transmutation, – the changing of the water into wine, of Matter into Spirit, of man into God. For this blood of Christ and of the Covenant – this wine within the holy Chalice, of which all must drink who nevermore would thirst – is the Divine Life, the vital, immortal principle, having neither beginning nor end, the perfect, pure, and incorruptible Spirit, cleansing and making white the vesture of the soul as no earthly purge can whiten; the gift of God through Christ, and the heritage of the elect. To live the Divine Life is to be partaker in the blood of Christ and to drink of Christ’s cup. It is to know the love of Christ which “passeth understanding,” the love which is Life, or God, and whose characteristic symbol is the blood-red ray of the solar prism. By this: mystical blood we are saved, – this blood, which is no other than the secret of the Christs, whereby man is transmuted from the material to the spiritual plane, the secret of inward purification by means of Love. For this “blood,” which, throughout the sacred writings is spoken of as the essential principle of the “Life,” is the spiritual Blood of the spiritual Life, – Life in its highest, intensest, and most excellent sense, – not the mere physical life understood by materialists, – but the very substantial Being, the inward Deity in man. And it is by means of this Blood of Christ only – that is by means of Divine Love only – that we can “come to the Father,” and inherit the kingdom of heaven. For, when it is said that “the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin,” it is signified that sin is impossible to him who is perfect in Love.
26. But the Christ is not only the type of the sinless Man, the hierarch of the mysteries; he is also the Redeemer. Now, therefore, we come to speak of the Vicarious and Redemptive office of the Divine Man, of his Passion, Sacrifice, and Oblation for others.
There is a true and there is a false rendening of this Mystery of Redemption which is the central mystery of the Divine Life, the gold of the target, the heart of Jesus, the bond of all grace, the very core and focus and crown of Love.
This third aspect of the Cross is in itself two-fold, because Wisdom and Love, though one in essence are twain in application, since Love cannot give without receiving, nor receive without giving. We have, therefore, in this double mystery both the oblation and lifting-up of the Christ in Man, and the Passion and Sacrifice for others of the Man in whom Christ is manifest. For even as Christ is one in us are we one with Christ, because as Christ loves and gives himself for us, we also, who are in Christ, give ourselves for others.
27. But the notion that man requires, and can be redeemed only by a personal Saviour in the flesh, extraneous to himself, is an idolatrous travesty of the truth. For that whereby a man is “saved” is his own re-birth and At-one-ment in a sense transcending the phenomenal. And this process is altogether interior to the man, and incapable of being performed from without or by another; a process requiring to be enacted anew in each individual, and impossible of fulfillment by proxy in the person of another. True, the new spiritual Man thus born of Water and the Spirit, or of the Pure Heart and the Divine Life; the Man making oblation on the cross, overcoming Death and ascending to Heaven is named Christ-Jesus, the Only Begotten, the Virgin-born, coming forth from God to seek and to save the lost; but this is no other than the description of the man himself after transmutation into the Divine Image. It is the picture of the regenerate man, made “alive in Christ,” and “like unto him.” For the Christos or Anointed, the Chrestos or Best, are but titles signifying Man Perfect; and the name of Jesus, at which every knee must bow, is the ancient and ever Divine Name of all the Sons of God – Iesous or Yesha, he who shall save, and Issa the Illuminated, or Initiate of Isis. For this name Isis, originally Ish-Ish, was Egyptian for Light-Light; that is, light doubled, the known and the knowing made one, and reflecting each other. It is the expression of the apostolic utterance, “Face to face, knowing as we are known, transformed into the image of His glory.” Similarly our affirmatives is and yes; for in both Issue and lesous “all the promises of God are Yes,” because God is the supreme Affirmative and Positive of the universe, enlightening every soul with truth and life and power. God is the Sun of the soul, whereof the physical sun is the hieroglyph, as the physical man is of the true eternal spiritual Man.
28. The light is positive, absolute, the sign of Being and of the everlasting “Yes;” and “the children of the Light” are they who have the gnosis and eternal Life thereby. But the negation of God is “Nay,” the Night, the Destroyer and the devil. The name therefore of Antichrist is Denial, or Unbelief, the spirit of Materialism and of Death. And the children of darkness are they who have quenched in themselves the divine Love, and “know not whither they go, because darkness hath blinded their eyes.” Hence the Serpent of the Dust is spoken of as “the Father of Lies,” that is, of negation; for the word “lie” means nothing else than “denial.” “No denial is of the truth,” says St. John, “for this is Antichrist, even he that denieth. Every spirit which annulleth Jesus (or the divine Yes) is not of God. By this we know the spirit of Truth, and the spirit of Error.”
29. Christ Jesus, then, is no other than the hidden and true man of the Spirit, the Perfect Humanity, the Express Image of the Divine Glory. And it is possible to man, by the renunciation – which mystically is the crucifixion – of his outer and lower self, to rise wholly into his inner and higher self, and, becoming suffused or anointed of the Spirit, to “put on Christ,” propitiate God, and redeem the earthly and material.
30. And that which they who, in the outer manifestation, are emphatically called Christs – whether of Palestine, of India, of Egypt or of Persia, – have done for man, is but to teach him what man is able to be in himself by bearing, each for himself, that Cross of renunciation which they have borne. And inasmuch as these have ministered to the salvation of the world thereby, they are truly said to be saviors of souls, whose doctrine and love and example have redeemed men from death and made them heirs of eternal life. The Wisdom they attained, they kept not secret, but freely gave as they had freely received. And that which thus they gave was their own life, and they gave it knowing that the children of darkness would turn on them and rend them because of the gift. But, with the Christs, Wisdom and Love are one, and the testament of Life is written in the blood of the testator. Herein is the difference between the Christ and the mere adept in knowledge. The Christ gives and dies in giving, because Love constrains him and no fear withholds; the adept is prudent, and keeps his treasure for himself alone. And as the At-on-ment accomplished in and by the Christs, is the result of the unreserved adoption of the Divine Life, and of the unreserved giving of the Love mystically called the Blood of Christ, those who adopt that Life according to their teaching, and who aspire to be one with God, are truly said to be saved by the Precious Blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. For the Lamb of God is the spiritual Sun in Aries, the spring-tide glory of ascending Light, the symbol of the Pure Heart and the Righteous Life, by which humanity is redeemed. And this Lamb is without spot, white as snow, because white is the sign of Affirmation and of the “Yes;” as black is of Negation and of the devil. It is Iesous Chrestos, the Perfect Yes of God who is symbolized by this white Lamb, and who, like his sign in heaven, was lifted up on the Cross of Manifestation from the foundation of the world.
31. In the holy Mysteries, dealing with the process of that second and new creation, which – constituting a return from Matter to Spirit – is mystically called Redemption, – every term employed refers to some process or thing subsisting or occurring within the individual himself. For, as man is a Microcosm, and comprises within all that is without, the processes of Creation by Evolution, and of Redemption by Involution, occur in the Man as in the Universe, and thereby in the Personal as in the General, in the One as in the Many. With the current orthodox symbolism of man’s spiritual history, the Initiate, or true Spiritualist, has no quarrel. That from which he seeks to be saved is truly the Devil, who through the sin of the Adam has power over him; that whereby he is saved is the precious blood of the Christ, the Only-begotten, whose mother is the immaculate ever-virgin Maria. And that to which, by means of this divine oblation, he attains is the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal Life. But, with the current orthodox interpretation of these terms, the Initiate is altogether at variance. For he knows that all these processes and names refer to Ideas, which are actual and positive, not to physical transcripts, which are reflective and relative only. He knows that it is within his own microcosmic system he must look for the true Adam, for the real Tempter, and for the whole process of the Fall, the Exile, the Incarnation, the Passion, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. And any mode of interpretation which implies other than this, is not celestial but terrene, and due to that intrusion of earthy elements into things divine, that conversion of the inner into the outer, that “Fixing of the Volatile” or materialization of the Spiritual, which constitutes idolatry.
32. For, such of us as know and live the inner life, are saved, not by any Cross on Calvary eighteen hundred years ago, not by any physical blood-shedding, not by any vicarious passion of tears and scourge and spear; but by the Christ-Jesus, the God with us, the Immanuel of the heart, born, working mighty works, and offering oblation in our own lives, redeeming us from the world, and making us sons of God and heirs of everlasting life.
33. But, if we are thus saved by the love of Christ, it is by love also that we manifest Christ to others. If we have received freely, we also give freely, shining in the midst of night, that is, in the darkness of the world. For so long as this darkness prevails over the earth, Love hangs on his cross; because the darkness is the working of a will at variance with the Divine Will, doing continual violence to the Law of Love.
34. The wrongs of others wound the Son of God, and the stripes of others fall on his flesh.
He is smitten with the pains of all creatures, and his heart is pierced with their wounds.
There is no offence done and he suffers not, nor any wrong and he is not hurt thereby.
For his heart is in the breast of every creature, and his blood in the veins of all flesh.
For to know perfectly is to love perfectly, and so to love is to be partaker in the pain of the beloved.
And inasmuch as a man loves and succors and saves even the least of God’s creatures, he ministers unto the Lord.
Christ is the perfect Lover, bearing the sorrows of all the poor and oppressed.
And the sin and injustice and ignorance of the World are the nails in his hands, and in his feet.
O Passion of Love, that givest thyself freely, even unto death!
For no man can do Love’s perfect work unless Love thrust him through and through.
But, if he love perfectly, he shall be able to redeem; for strong Love is a Net which shall draw all souls unto him.
Because unto Love is given all power, both in heaven and on earth;
Seeing that the will of him who loves perfectly is one with the Will of God:
And unto God and Love, all things are possible.
35. We come now to the last and innermost of the fourfold Mysteries of the Cross; the Oblation of God in and for the Macrocosmic Universe.
The fundamental truth embodied in this aspect of the holy symbol, is the doctrine of Pantheism; God, and God only, in and through All. The celestial Olympus – Mount of Oracles – is ever creating; God never ceases giving of the Divine Self alike for Creation and for Redemption.
God is in all things, whether personal or impersonal, and in God they live and move and have being. And that stage of purification through which the Cosmos is now passing, is God’s Crucifixion; the process of Transmutation and Redemption of Spirit from Matter, of Being from Existence, of Substance from Phenomenon, which is to culminate in the final At-one-nient of the ultimate Sabbath of Rest awaiting God’s redeemed universe at the end of the Kalpa. In the Man Crucified, we have, therefore, the type and symbol of the continual Crucifixion of God manifest in the flesh, God suffering in the creature, the Invisible made Visible, the Volatile Fixed, the Divine Incarnate, which manifestation, suffering, and crucifixion are the causes of purification and therefore of Redemption. Thus, in the spiritual Sense, the six days of creation are always Passion Week, in that they represent the process of painful experience, travail, and passing through, whereby the Spirit accomplishes the redemption of the Body; or the return of Matter into Substance. Hence in the sacred writings, God, in the person of Divine Humanity, is represented as showing the Five Mystical Wounds of the Passion to the Angels, and saying: – “These are the Wounds of My Crucifixion, wherewith I am wounded in the House of My Friends.” For, so long as pain and sorrow and sin endure, God is wounded continually in the persons of all creatures, small and great; and the temple of their body is the House wherein the Divine Guest suffers.
36. For the Bread which is broken and divided for the children of the Kingdom is the Divine Substance, which with the Wine of the Spirit, constitute the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Communion of the Divine and the Terrene, the Oblation of Deity in Creation.
37. May this holy Body and Blood, Substance and Spirit, Divine Mother and Father, inseparable Duality in Unity, given for all creatures, broken and shed, and making oblation for the world, be everywhere known, adored, and venerated. May we, by means of that Blood, which is the Love of God and the Spirit of Life, be redeemed, indrawn, and transmuted into that Body which is Pure Substance, immaculate and ever virgin, express Image of the Person of God! That we hunger no more, neither thirst any more; and that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any creature, be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.
That being made one through the At-one-ment of Christ, who only hath Immortality and inhabiteth Light inaccessible;
We also beholding the glory of God with open face; may be transformed into the same Image, from glory to glory by the power of the Spirit. (See Appendices, Nos. V. VIL)
LECTURE THE FIFTH.
THE NATURE AND CONSTITUTION OF THE EGO.
01. EVOLUTION as revealed by the facts of physical science is inexplicable on the materialistic hypothesis, as also are the facts of occult experience and science. This is because, by its failure to recognize consciousness as subsisting prior to organism, and inherent in substance, that hypothesis ignores the condition essential to evolution.
02. But for evolution something more even than consciousness is requisite, – namely, memory. For memory is the condition of segregation; the cause and consequence of individualization. Hence every molecule, both in its individual and its collective capacity, is capable of memory; for every experience leaves, in its degree, its impression or scar on the substance of the molecule to be transmitted to its descendants. This memory of the most striking effects of past experience, is the differentiating cause which, accumulated over countless generations, leads up from the amæba to man. Were there no such memory, instead of progress, or evolution, there would be a circle returning into and repeating itself: whereas, the modifying effects of accumulated experience convert what would otherwise be a circle into a spiral, whose eccentricity – though imperceptible at the outset – becomes greater and more complex at every step. [ See Unconscious Memory, ch. Xiii., by S. Butler. 1880.]
03. Consciousness being inherent in substance, every molecule in the universe is able to feel and to obey after its kind, – the inorganic as well as the organic, between which there is no absolute distinction, as ordinarily supposed. For even the stone has a moral platform, embracing a respect for and obedience to the laws of gravitation and chemical affinity. Wherever there are vibration and motion, there are life and memory; and there are vibration and motion at all times and in all things. Herein may be seen the cause of the failure of the attempt to divide the ego from the non-ego. Strictly speaking, there is one thing and one action; for unconsciousness is no more a positive thing, than darkness. It is the privation, more or less complete, of consciousness, as obscurity is of light.
04. We come to speak of the substantial ego, the soul or Psyche, the superior human reason, the nucleus of the human system. [ Using the term Psyche in the higher sense usually attached to it by the post-Homeric Greeks, and not that of the animal life as by Paul.] In every living entity there are four inherent powers. We are speaking now not of component parts but of forces. The first and lowest mode of power is the mechanical; the second is the chemical; the third is the electrical, – an order which includes the mental; and the fourth is the psychical. The first three belong to the domain of physiological science; the last to that of spiritual science. It is this last mode of power which belong to the “Immaculate” and Essential. It is inherent in the Substantial, and is, therefore, a permanent and indefeasible quantity. It is in the Arche, and is wherever there is organic life. Thus is Psyche at once the “living mother” and “mother of the living.” And she is from the Beginning latent and diffused in all matter. She is the unmanifest, by the divine Will made manifest; the invisible, by energy made visible. Wherefore every manifested entity is a Trinity, whose three “persons” are, – (1) that which makes visible; (2) that which is made visible; and (3) that which is visible. Such are Force, Substance, and the expression or “Word” of these.
05. Of this Energy, or Primordial Force, there are two modes, – for everything is dual, – the centrifugal, or accelerating force, and the centripetal, or moderating force; or which the latter, in being derivative, reflex, and complementary, is as feminine to the other’s masculine. By means of the first mode substances become matter. By means of the second mode substance resumes her first condition. In all matter there is a tendency to revert to substance, and hence to polarize Soul by means of evolution. For the instant the centrifugal mode of force comes into action, that instant its derivative, the centripetal force, begins also to exercise its influence. And the primordial substance has no sooner assumed the condition of matter, than matter itself begins to differentiate, – being actuated by its inherent force, – and by differentiation to beget individualities.
06. Then Psyche, once abstract and universal, becomes concrete and individual, and through the gate of matter issues forth into new life. A minute spark in the globule, she becomes – by continual accretion and centralization – a refulgent blaze in the globe. As along a chain of nerve-cells the current of magnetic energy flows to its central point, – being conveyed, as is a mechanical shock, along a series of units, with ever-culminating impetus, – so is the psychic energy throughout nature developed. Hence the necessity of centres, of associations, of organisms. And thus, by the systemization of congeries of living entities, that which in each is little, becomes great in the whole. The quality of Psyche is ever the same; her potentiality is invariable.
07. Our souls, then, are the agglomerate essences of the numberless consciousnesses composing us. They have grown, evolving gradually from rudimentary entities which were themselves evolved, by polarization, from gaseous and mineral matter. And these entities combine and coalesce to form higher, – because more complex, – entities, the soul of the individual representing the combined forces of their manifold consciousnesses, polarized and centralized into an indefeasible unity.
08. While the material and the physical are to each other respectively the world of Causes and the world of Effects, the material is, itself, the effect of the spiritual, being the middle term between the spiritual and the physical. It is therefore true that organism is the result of Idea, and that Mind is the cause of evolution. The explanation is, that Mind is before matter in its abstract, though not in its concrete condition. This is to say, that Mind, greater than, and yet identical with, that which results from organism, precedes and is the cause of organism.
09. This Mind is God, as subsisting prior to and apart from creation, which is manifestation. God is spirit or essential substance, and is impersonal if the term person be taken in its etymological sense, but personal in the highest and truest sense if the conception be of essential consciousness. For God has no limitations. God is a pure and naked fire burning in infinitude, whereof a flame subsists in all creatures. The Cosmos is a tree having innumerable branches, each connected with and springing out of various boughs, and these again originating in and nourished by one stem and root. And God is a fire burning in this tree, and yet consuming it not. God is I AM. Such is the nature of infinite and essential Being. And such is God before the worlds. [ Terms implying succession, when used in relation to the infinite and eternal, are to be understood logically, not chronologically.]
10. What, then, is the purpose of evolution, and separation into many forms, – the meaning, that is, of Life? Life is the elaboration of soul through the varied transformation of matter.
Spirit is essential and perfect in itself, having neither beginning nor end. Soul is secondary and perfected, being begotten of spirit. Spirit is the first principle, and is abstract. Soul is the derivative, and is therefore concrete. Spirit is thus the primary Adam; and Soul is Eve, the “woman” taken out of the side of the “man.”
11. The essential principle of personality, – that which constitutes personality in its highest sense, – is consciousness, is spirit; and this is God. Wherefore the highest and innermost principle of every monad is God. But this primary principle, – being naked essence, – could not be separated off into individuals unless contained and limited by a secondary principle. This principle, – being derived, – is, necessarily evolved. Spirit, therefore, is projected into the condition of matter in order that soul may be evolved thereby. Soul is begotten in matter by means of polarization; and spirit, of which all matter consists, returns to its essential nature in soul, – this being the medium in which spirit is individualized, – and from abstract becomes concrete; so that by means of creation God the One becomes God the Many.
12. WE have spoken of an outer personality and an inner personality, and of a material consciousness as differing from a spiritual consciousness. We have now to speak of a spiritual energy as differing from a material energy. The energy whereby the soul polarizes and accretes, is not dependent upon the undulations of the ether as are material energies. The astral ether is the first state of matter. And to the first state of matter corresponds the primordial force, the rotatory, or centrifugal and centripetal in one. But before and within force is Will; that is, Necessity, which is the will of God. It is inherent in substance, which is the medium in which it operates. Such as the primordial will is in relation to the primordial substance, the individual will is to the derived soul. And when the current of spiritual energy, or will, is strong enough in the complex organism to polarize and kindle centrally, then the individual Psyche conceives Divinity within her and becomes God- conscious. In the rudimentary stages of matter, this current is not strong enough or continuous enough thus to polarize.
13. When Psyche has once gathered force sufficient to burn centrally, her flame is not quenched by the disintegration of the physical elements. These, indeed, fall asunder and desquamate many times during life; yet the consciousness and memory remain the same. We have not in our physical bodies a single particle which we had some few years ago, and yet our ego is the same and our thought continuous. The Psyche in us, therefore, has grown up out of many elements; and their interior egos are perpetuated in our interior ego, because their psychic force is centralized in our individuality. And when our Psyche is disengaged from the disintegrating particles of our systems, she will, – after due purgation, – go forth to new affinities and the reversion of matter to substance will still continue.
14. Is it asked, – If the soul be immaculate how comes she to be attracted by material affinities? The reply is, that the link between her and earth is that which the Hindus call Karma, namely, the results of past conduct, and consequent destiny. Immaculate though she be in her virginal essence, Psyche is not the “espoused Bride” until the bond between her and the earth be severed. And this can be only when every molecule of her essence is pervaded by spirit, and indissolubly married therewith, as God with Arche in the Principle.
The soul, like water, can never really be other than “immaculate,” and hence the peculiar propriety of water as the mystical symbol for the soul. Being a chemical combination of two gases, – hydrogen and oxygen, – themselves pure, water itself also is pure and cannot be otherwise. The condition called foulness occurs, not by the admission of foreign substances entering into combination with it, but only by mechanical admixture with these, and the holding of them in suspension in such wise that may be eliminated by distillation. Such is the relation of the soul to “sin.” When regeneration, the equivalent of distillation, – is accomplished, “Karma” is no longer operative.
15. THE law inherent in the primordial substance of matter obliges all things to evolve after the same mode. The worlds in the infinite abyss of the heavens are in all respects similar to the cells in vegetable or animal tissue. Their evolution is similar, their distribution similar, and their mutual relations are similar. For this reason we may, by the study of natural science, learn the truth not only in regard to this, but in regard also to occult science; for the facts of the first are as a mirror to the facts of the last.
16. We have already said that our souls are the agglomerate essences of the numberless consciousnesses composing us. Our souls are not, however, limited in capacity to the sum total of those consciousnesses as they are in their separate state; but represent them combined into One Life polarized to a plane indefinitely higher. For the synthetical resultant thus attained is not a mere aggregate of constituents; but represents a new condition of these, precisely as in chemistry H2O – the symbol for water – represents a new condition of 2H+O, and differs from it by a reformulation of state. After such a reformulation, the sum of the activities of the molecules of the resulting product is different from that previously possessed by its factors. In such sense is to be understood the synthesis of consciousness by means of which our individuality is constituted; and, – referring this this synthetic energy to a yet higher plane, – the formulation of the God-consciousness peculiar to our world.
This idea was familiar to the ancients. They were wont to regard every heavenly orb as a deity, having for his material body the visible planet; for his astral nature its vegetable and animal intelligences; and for his Soul, man’s substantial part, his spirit being the Nous of man, and therefore Divine. And as, when speaking of the planet-God they specially meant that Nous, it was said with truth that our Divine part is no other than the planet-God, – in our case Dionysos, or Jehovah-Nyssi, the “God of the emerald,” or green earth, called also Iacchos, the mystic Bacchos. [ See Appendices No. XII. The Earth’s place in the “Seven Planets” is that of the green ray in the spectrum. Hence the emerald “Tablet of Trismegistus” and signet of the Popes.]
17. Such as all creatures composing the planet are to the planet, all the planets are to universe, and such are the Gods to God (in manifestation). The supreme Ego of the universe is the sum total of all the Gods; His Personality is their agglomerate personality; to pray to Him is to address all the celestial host, and, by inclusion, the souls of all just men. But as in man, the central unity of consciousness constituted of the association of all the consciousness of his system, is more than the sum total of these, inasmuch as it is on a higher level; – so in the planet and the universe. The soul of the planet is more than the associated essences of the souls composing it. The consciousness of the system is more than that of associated world-consciousnesses. The consciousness of the manifest universe is more than that of the corporate systems; and that of the Unmanifest Deity is greater than that of them all. For the Manifest does not exhaust the Unmanifest; but “the Father is greater than the Son.” [ See Appendices, No. X., I.]
18. And here it is necessary that this distinction between the manifest and unmanifest God be insisted on and defined. “No man,” it is declared, “hath seen the Father at any time,” because the Father is Deity unmanifest. And again, “He that hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father also,” because the Son is Deity in manifestation, and is the “Express Image” or Revelation of the Father, being brought forth in the “fulness of time” as the crown of cosmic evolution. This latter mode of Deity is therefore synthetical and cumulative; the terminal quantity of the whole series of the universal Life-process (Lebens-prozess) as exhibited in successive planes of generative activity, the Omega of concretive developments. But the Father is Deity under its abstract mode, logically precedent to and inclusive of the secondary and manifest mode; the Alpha of all things and processes, the supra-cosmic, primordial Being, impersonal (in the etymological sense of the term) and unindividualized; that wherein consciousness subsists in its original mode, and whereby it is subsequently conditioned and compelled. This unmanifest Deity must necessarily represent some mode of Self-hood; but its nature remains inscrutable to us, and can be known only through the Person of the Son; – that is, in manifestation.
The difference between the two modes of Deity finds apt illustration in the physiology of embryonic development. The first condition of the fecundated ovum is one of generalized and informulate vitality. An activity, at once intelligent and unindividualized, permeates the mass of potential differentiations, and directs their manifestation. Under the direction of this inherent activity, the mass divides, segregates, and constitutes itself into discrete elements; and these in their turn sub-divide, and elaborate new individuations; until, by means of successive aggregations of cellular entities, various strata and tissues are formed. In this way, is built up, little by little, a new glomerate creature, the consciousness of which, though manifold and diverse, is yet one and synthetic. But this synthetic individuality is not of itself. It was begotten in the bosom of the inherent and primordial intelligence pervading the essential matter out of which it was constructed, and to which, as Father, it is Son.
19. The Gods are not limited in number. Their numbers denote orders only. Beyond number are the orbs in infinite space, and each of them is a God. Each globe has its quality corresponding to the conditions of the elements which compose it. And every physical world of causes has its psychic world of effects. All things are begotten by fission, or section, in an universal protoplast; and the power which causes this generation is centrifugal.
20. God unmanifest and abstract is the Primordial Mind, and the cosmic universe is the ideation of that Mind. Mind in itself is passive; it is organ, not function. Idea is active; it is function. As soon, therefore, as Mind becomes operative, it brings forth Ideas, and these constitute existence. Mind is abstract; Ideas are concrete. To think is to create. Every thought is a substantial action. Wherefore Thoth – Thought – is the creator of the Cosmos. Hence the identification of Hermes (Thoth) with the Logos.
21. Nevertheless, there is but one God; and in God are comprehended all thrones, and dominions, and powers, and principalities, and archangels, and cherubim in the celestial world, – called by Kabbalists the “Exemplary World,” or world of archetypal ideas. And through these are the worlds begotten in time and space, each with its astral sphere. And every world is a conscient individuality. Yet they all subsist in one consciousness, which is one God. For all things are of spirit, and God is spirit, and spirit is consciousness.
22. The science of the Mysteries is the climax and crown of the physical sciences, and can be fully understood only by those who are conversant therewith. Without this knowledge it is impossible to comprehend the basic doctrine of occult science, the doctrine of Vehicles. The knowledge of heavenly things must be preceded by that of earthly things. “If, when I have spoken to you of earthly things, you understand not,” says the Hierophant to his neophytes, “how shall you understand when I speak to you of heavenly things?” It is vain to seek the inner chamber without first passing through the outer. Theosophy, or the science of the Divine, is the Royal Science. And there is no way to reach the King’s chamber save through the outer rooms and galleries of the palace. Hence one of the reasons why occult science cannot be unveiled to the generality of men. To the uninstructed no truth is demonstrable. They who have not learned to appreciate the elements of a problem, cannot appreciate its solution.
23. All the component consciousnesses of the individual polarize to form an unity, which is as a sun to his system. But this polarization is fourfold, being distinct for each mode of consciousness. And the central, innermost, or highest point of radiance – and it alone – is subjective. They who stop short at the secondary consciousness and imagine it to be the subjective, have failed to penetrate to the innermost and highest point of the consciousness in themselves, and in so far are defective as to their humanity. Whereas they who have developed in themselves the consciousness of every zone of the human system, are truly human, and do, of themselves, represent humanity as no majority, however great, of undeveloped and rudimentary men can do. Being thus, they represent Divinity also. Theocracy consists in government by them.
24. Let us take for illustration the image of an incandescent globe, or ball of fire, fluid and igneous throughout its whole mass. Supposing this globe divided into several successive zones, each containing its precedent, we find that the central interior zone only contains the radiant point, or heart of the fiery mass, and that each successive zone constitutes a circumferential halo, more or less intense according to its nearness to the radiant point; but secondary and derived only, and not in itself a source of luminous radiation.
25. It is thus with the macrocosm, and also with the human kingdom. In the latter the soul is the interior zone, and that which alone contains the radiant point. By this one indivisible effulgence the successive zones are illuminated in unbroken continuity; but the source of it is not in them. And this effulgence is consciousness, and this radiant point is the spiritual ego or Divine spark. God is the Shining One, the radiant point of the universe. God is the supreme consciousness, and the Divine radiance also is consciousness. And man’s interior ego is conscient only because the radiant point in it is Divine. And this consciousness emits consciousness; and transmits it, first, to the Psyche; next to the anima bruta; and last, to the physical system. The more concentrated the consciousness, the brighter and more effulgent the central spark.
26. Again: in from the midst of this imagined globe of fire the central incandescent spark be removed, the whole globe does not immediately become dark; but the effulgence lingers in each zone according to its degree of proximity to the centre. And it is thus when dissolution occurs in the process of death. The anima bruta and physical body may retain consciousness for a while after the soul is withdrawn, and each part will be capable of memory, thought, and reflection according to its kind.
27. Apart from the consciousness which is of the Psyche, man is necessarily agnostic. For, of the region which, being spiritual and primary, interprets the sensible and secondary, he has no perception. He may know things, indeed, but not the meaning of things; appearances, but not realities; resultant forms, but not formative ideas; still less the source of these. The world and himself are fellow-phantoms; aimless apparitions of an inscrutable something, or, may-be, nothing; a succession of unrelated, unstable states.
28. From this condition of non-entity, the spiritual consciousness redeems him, by withdrawing him inward from materiality and negation, and disclosing to him a noumenal, and, therefore, stable ego, as the cognizer of the unstable states of his phenomenal ego. The recognition of this noumenal ego in himself involves the recognition of a corresponding ego, of which it is the counterpart, without himself: – involves, that is, the perception of God. For the problem of the ego in man is the problem also of God in the universe. The revelation of one is the revelation of both, and the knowledge of either involves that of the other. Wherefore for man to know himself, is to know God. Self-consciousness is God-consciousness. He who possesses this consciousness, is, in such degree, a Mystic.
29. That whereby the mystic is differentiated from other men, is degree and quality of sensitiveness. All are alike environed by one and the same manifold Being. But whereas the majority are sensitive to certain planes or modes only, and these the outer and lower, of the common environment, he is sensitive to them all, and especially to the inner and higher; having developed the corresponding mode in himself. For man can recognize without himself that only which he has within himself. The mystic is sensitive to the God-environment, because God is spirit, and he has developed his spiritual consciousness. That is, he has and knows his noumenal ego. Psyche and her recollections and perceptions are his.
30. Hence the radiant point of the complex ego must be distinguished from its perceptive point. The first is always fixed and immutable. The second is mutable; and its position and relations vary with different individuals. The consciousness of the soul, or even – in very rudimentary beings – of the mind may lie beyond the range of the perceptive consciousness. As, this advances and spreads inwards, the environment of the ego concerned expands; until, when, finally, the perceptive point and the radiant point coincide, the ego attains regeneration and emancipation.
31. When the physiologists tell us that memory is a biological processus, and that consciousness is a state dependent upon the duration and intensity of molecular nervous vibration, a consensus of a vital action in the cerebral cells; a complexity, unstable and automatic, making and unmaking itself at each instant, as does the material flame, and similarly evanescent, – they do not touch the Psyche. For what is it that cognizes these unstable states? To what Subject do these successive and ephemeral conditions manifest themselves, and how are they recognized? Phenomenon is incapable of cognizing itself, and appears not to itself, being objective only. So that unless there be an inner, subjective ego to perceive and remember this succession of phenomenal states, the condition of personality would be impossible; whereas, there is of necessity such an ego; for apparition and production are processes affecting – and therefore implying – a subject. Now this subject is, for man, the Psyche; for the universe, God. In the Divine mind subsist eternally and substantially all those things of which we behold the appearances. And as in nature there are infinite gradations from simple to complex, from coarse to fine, from dark to light, so is Psyche reached by innumerable degrees; and they who have not penetrated to the inner, stop short at the secondary consciousness, which is ejective only, and imagine that the subjective – which alone explains all – is undemonstrable.
32. A prime mistake of the biologists consists in their practice of seeking unity in the simple, rather than in the complex. They thus reverse and invert the method of evolution, and nullify its end. They refuse unity to the man, in order to claim it for the molecule alone. Claiming unity and, thereby, individuality, for the ultimate element, indivisible and indestructible by thought, – for the simple monad only, –they divinize the lowest instead of the highest, and so deprive evolution of its motive and end. Whereas Psyche is the most complex of extracts; and the dignity and excelence of the human soul consist, not in her simplicity, but in her complexity. She is the summit of evolution, and all generation works in order to produce her. The occult law which governs evolution brings together, in increasingly complex and manifold entities, in numerable unities, in order that they may, of their substantial essence, polarize one complex essential extract: – complex, because evolved from and by the concurrence of many simpler monads: – essential, because in its nature ultimate and indestructible. The human ego is, therefore, the synthesis, the Divine Impersonal personified; and the more sublimed is this personality, the profounder is the consciousness of the Impersonal. The Divine consciousness is not ejective, but subjective. The secondary personality and consciouness are to the primary as the water reflecting the heavens; the nether completing and returning to the upper its own concrete reflex.
33. It is necessary clearly to understand the difference between the objective and the ejective on the one hand, and the subjective on the other. The study of the material is the study of the two former; and the study of the substantial is the study of the latter. That, then, which the biologists term the subjective, is not truly so, but is only the last or interior phase of phenomenon. Thus , for example, the unstable states which constitute consciousness, are, in their view, subjective states. But they are objective to the true subject, which is Psyche, because they are perceived by this latter, and whatever is perceived is objective. There are in the microcosm two functions, that of the revealer, and that of the entity to which revelation is made. The unstable states of the biologist, which accompany certain operations of organic force are so many modes whereby exterior things are revealed to the interior subject. Constituting a middle term between object and subject, these states are strictly ejective, and are not, therefore, the subject to which revelation is made. It is hopeless to seek to attain the subjective by the same method of study which discovers the ejective and objective. We find the latter by observation from without; the former by intuition from within. The human cosmos is a complexity of many principles, each having its own mode of operation. And it is on the rank and order of the principle affected by any special operation that the nature of the effect produced depends. When, therefore, for example, the biologist speaks of unconscious cerebration, he should ask himself to whom or to what such cerebration is unconscious, knowing that in all vital processes there is infinite gradation. Questions of duration affect the mind; questions of intensity affect the Psyche. All processes which occur in the objective are relative to something; there is but one thing absolute and that is the subject. Unconscious cerebration is therefore only relatively unconscious in regard to that mode of perception which is conditioned in and by duration. But inasmuch as any such process of cerebration is intense, it is perceived by that perceptive centre which is conditioned by intensity; and in relation to that centre it is not unconscious. The interior man being spiritual, knows all processes; but many processes are not apprehended by the man merely mental. We see herein the distinction between the human principles, and their separability even on this plane of life. And if our mundane ego and our celestial ego be so distinct and separable, even while vitally connected, that a nervous process conscious to the latter is unconscious to the former much more shall separability be possible when the vital bond is broken. If the polarities of our entire system were single and identical in direction, we should be conscious of all processes and nothing would be unknown to us; because the central point of our perception would be the precise focus of all convergent radii. But no unregenerate man is in such case. In most men the perceptive point lies in the relative man, – ejective or objective, – and by no means in the substantial and subjective man. Thus the convergent radii pass unheeded of the individual consciousness, because, as yet, the man knows not his own spirit. Being thus incapable of absolute cognition, such as these may be said to be asleep while they live.
34. THE higher the entity undergoing death, the easier is the detachment of the Psyche from the lower consciousness by which she is enshrined. The saint does not fear death, because his consciousness is gathered up into his Psyche, and she into her spouse the Spirit. Death, for him, is the result, not of any pathological process, but of the normal withdrawal, first, of the animal life into the astral or magnetic; and, next, of this into the psychic, to the reinforcement of the latter, precisely as in the cell about to disintegrate, its protoplasmic contents are seen to become better defined and to increase, as their containing capsule becomes more tenuous and transparent. In this wise have passed away saints and holy man innumerable of all lands and faiths; and with a dissolution of this kind the relations of the redeemed Psyche with materiality may terminate altogether. Such an end is the consummation of the redemption from the power of the body, and from the “sting of death.” Forasmuch, however, as the righteous has attained this condition by what Paul calls “dying daily” during a long period to the lower elements, death for him, – whatever the guise in which it may finally come – is no sudden event, but the completion of a process long in course of accomplishment. That which to others is a violent shock, comes to him by insensible degrees, and as a release wholly comfortable. Hence the aspiration of the prophet, “Let me die the death of the just, and let my last end be like his.”
35. In dissolution, the consciouness speedily departs from the outermost and lowest sphere, that of the physical body. In the shade, spectre, or astral body (Hebrew, Nephesh) – which is the lowest mode of soul, – consciousness lingers a brief while before being finally dissipated. In the astral soul, anima bruta, or ghost (Hebrew, Ruach) consciousness persists, – it may be for centuries, – according to the strength of the lower will of the individual, manifesting the distinctive characteristics of his outer personality. In the soul (Hebrew, Neshamah), the immediate receptacle of the Divine Spirit, – the consciousness is everlasting as the soul herself. And while the ghost remains below in the astral sphere, the soul, obeying the same universal law of gravitation and affinity, detaches herself and mounts to the higher atmosphere suited to her; – unless, indeed, she be yet too gross to be capable of such aspiration. In which case, she remains “bound” in her astral envelope as in a prison. This separability of principles is recognized in Homer when Odysseus is made to say of his interview with the shades: – “Then I perceived Herakles, but only in phantom, for he himself is with the gods.” [ As pointed out by Dr. Hayman, Pindar similarly emphasizes the distinction between the hero and his immortal essence. And Chaucer has the line: “Though thou here walked, thy spirit is in hell”(Man of Law’s Tale). These distinctions are more than poetic imaginings. They represent occult knowledges as verified by the experience of all ages.]
36. The ghosts of the dead resemble mirrors having two opposed surfaces. On the one side they reflect the earth-sphere and its pictures of the past. On the other they receive influxes from those higher spheres which have received their higher, because spiritual, egos. The interval between these principles is, however, better described as of state or condition than as of locality. For this belongs to the physical and mundane, and for the freed soul has no existence. There is no far nor near in the Divine.
37. The ghost, however, has hopes which are not without justification. It does not all die, if there be in it anything worthy of recall. The astral sphere is then its place of purgation. For Saturn, who as Time is the Trier of all things, devours all the dross, so that only that escapes which in its nature is celestial and destined to reign. The soul, on attaining Nirvana, gathers up all that it has left in the astral of holy memories and worthy experiences. To this end the ghost rises in the astral by the gradual decay and loss of its more material affinities, until these have so disintegrated and perished that its substance is thereby enlightened and purified. But continued commerce and intercourse with earth add, as it were, fresh fuel to its earthly affinities, keeping these alive, and so hinder its recall to its spiritual ego. And thus, therefore, the spiritual ego itself is detained from perfect absorption into, and union with, the Divine.
38. This dissolution of the ghost is gradual and natural. It is a process of disintegration and elimination extending over periods which are greater or less according to the character of the individual. Those ghosts which have belonged to evil persons possessed of strong wills and earthly tendencies, persist longest and manifest most frequently and vividly, because they do not rise, but – being destined to perish – are not withdrawn from immediate contact with the earth. These are all dross, having in them no redeemable element. The ghost of the righteous, on the other hand, complains if his evolution be disturbed. “Why callest thou me?” he may be regarded as saying: “disturb me not. The memories of my earth-life are chains about my neck; the desire of the past detains me. Suffer me to rise towards my rest, and hinder me not with evocations. But let thy love go after me and encompass me; so shalt thou rise with me through sphere after sphere.” Thus even though, as often happens, the ghost of a righteous person remains near one who, being also righteous, has loved him, it is still after the true soul of the dead that the love of the living friend goes, and not after his lower personality represented in the ghost. And it is the strength and divinity of this love which helps the purgation of the soul, being to it an indication of the way it ought to go, “a light shining upon the upward path” which leads from the earthly to the celestial and everlasting. For the good man upon earth can love nothing other than the Divine. Wherefore, that which he loves in his friend is the Divine, – his true and radiant self. [ See Appendices, Nos. II and XIII, Part 2.]
39. Of the four constituent spheres of the planet one subsists in two conditions, present and past. This is its magnetic atmosphere or astral soul, called the Anima Mundi. In the latter condition it is the Picture-world wherein are stored up all the memories of the planet; its past life, its history, its affections and recollections of physical things. The adept may interrogate this phantom-world, and it shall speak for him. It is the cast-off vestment of the planet; yet it is living and palpitating, for its very fabric is spun of psychic substance, and its entire parenchyma is magnetic. And forasmuch as the planet is an entity ever being born and ever dying; so this astral counterpart of itself, which is the mirror of the globe, a world encompassing a world is ever in process of increase.
40. What the disintegrating Ruach is to man, this astral zone is to the planet. In fact, the great magnetic sphere of the planet is itself composed and woven out of the magnetic egos of its offspring, precisely as these in their turn are woven out of the infinitely lesser atoms which compose the individual man. So that by a figure, we may represent the whole astral atmosphere of the planet as a system of so many minute spheres, each reflecting and transmitting special rays. But as the Divine Spirit of the planet is not in its magnetic circle, but in the celestial; so the true soul and spirit of the man are not in this astral sphere, but are of the higher altitudes.
41. Each world has its astral soul which remains always with it. But the world’s true soul migrates and interchanges, which is the secret of the creation of worlds. Worlds, like men, have their karma; and new cosmic globes arise out of the ruins of former states. As the soul of the individual human unit transmigrates and passes on, so, likewise does the Psyche of the planet. From world to world in ceaseless intercourse and impetus, the living Neshamah pursues her variable way. And as she passes, the tincture of her divinity changes. Here, her spirit is derived through Iacchos; there through Aphrodite; and, again, through Hermes, or another god. Here, again, she is weak; and there, strong. Our planet – it must be understood – did not begin this Avatar in strength. An evil karma overwhelmed its soul; a karma which has endured throughout the last pralaya, or interval intervening between the former period of vivification of the planet and its re birth, to new activities, – and which, from the outset of the fresh manifestation – commonly called creation – dominated the reconstruction of things. This planetary karma was, by the Scandinavian theology, presented under the figure of the “golden dice of destiny,” which, after the “twilight of the Gods,” or “night of the Kalpa,” were found again unchanged in the growing grass of a new risen earth. For, as the kabbalistic interpreters of Genesis teach, the moral formations of all created things preceded their objective appearance. So that “every plant of the field before it sprang, and every herb of the ground before it grew,” had its “generation” unalterably determined. And, so long as these moral destinies which constitute the planetary karma remain operative, so long the process of alternate passivity and activity will continue. The revolutions and evolution of matter, the interchanges of destruction and renovation, mark the rhythmic swing of this resistless force, the expression of essential Justice. “The might of the Gods increase: the might of the powers of evil dwindles.” [ The Dharmasastra Sutras.]
42. As with man so with the planet. For small and great there is One Law; though one star differs from another in glory. And so throughout the infinite vistas and systems of the heavens. From star to star, from sun to sun, from galaxy to galaxy, the cosmic souls migrate and interchange. But every God keeps his tincture and maintains indefeasibly his personality.
43. To apply what has been said to the elucidatior of catholic doctrine and practice. The object set before the saint is so to live as to render the soul luminous and consolidate with the spirit, that thereby the spirit may be perpetually one with the soul, and thus eternize its individuality. For individuality appertains to the soul, inasmuch as it consists in separateness, which it is the function of soul-substance to accomplish in respect of spirit. [ While Christianity teaches the everlasting persistence of acquired personality of the redeemed, and makes redemption consist in this, Buddhism insists that personality is an illusion belonging to the sphere of existence, - as distinguished from Being, - and makes redemption consist in the escape from it. But the difference between the two doctrines is one of presentation only, and is not a real difference. The explanation is that there are to each individual two personalities or selfhoods, the one exterior and phenomenal, which is transient, and the other interior and substantial, which is permanent. And while Buddhism declares truly the evanescence of the former, Christianity declares truly the continuance of the latter. It is the absorption of the individual into this inner and divine selfhood, and his consequent withdrawal from Existence, that constitutes Nirvana, “the peace that passeth understanding.” ] Thus, though eternal and immaculate in her substance, the soul acquires individuality by being born in matter and time; and within her is conceived the divine element, which, divided from God, is yet God and man. Wherefore catholic dogma and tradition, while making Mary the “mother of God,” represent her as born of Anna, the year, of time. [ The Hebrew forms of these names, - Miriam and Hannah, - do not bear quite the same meanings. But, as is obvious from the analogies used and accepted in Catholic teaching, the name of the Virgin has always been related to its Latin signification, so that it is consistent to accept the name of her mother accordance with this practice, especially as the latter is not mentioned by any other Evangelists, but occurs only in Latin tradition.]
44. The two terms of the history of creation, or evolution, are formulated by the Church in two dogmas. These are (1), the Immaculate Conception; and (2), the Assumption, of the Blessed Virgin Mary. [ It is true that the doctrine of the Assumption is not a dogma in the technical sense of the term, inasmuch as it has not yet been formally promulgated as an article of faith. But it has always subsisted in the Church as a “pious belief,” and in promulgating it we are but anticipating the Church’s intention; – excepting that we present it as a conclusion of reason no less than as an article of faith. How far our action may be agreeable to ecclesiastical authority we have not thought necessary to inquire. Neither deriving our information from ecclesiastical sources, nor being under ecclesiastical direction, we commit no breach of ecclesiastical propriety. In any case it has the notable effect of securing the fulfilment of the prophecy implied in the choice of his official title and insignia by Pope Leo XIII. – the prophecy that his pontificate should witness the promulgation in question. For further explanation see Lect. VI. 39.] The former concerns the generation of the soul, presenting her as begotten in the womb of matter, and by means of matter brought into world, and yet not of matter, but from the first moment of her being, pure and incorrupt. Otherwise she could not be “Mother of God.” In her bosom, as Nucleus, is conceived the bright and holy Light, the Nucleolus, which – without participation of matter – germinates in her and manifests itself as the express image of the Eternal and Ineffable Selfhood. To this image she gives individuality; and through and in her it is focused and polarized into a perpetual and self-subsistent Person, at once human and Divine, Son of God and of Man. Thus is the soul at once Daughter, Spouse, and Mother of God. By her is crushed the head of the Serpent. And from her triumphant springs the Man Regenerate, who, as the product of a pure soul and divine spirit, is said to be born of water (Maria) and the Holy Ghost.
45. The declarations of Jesus to Nicodemus are explicit and conclusive as to the purely spiritual nature both of the entity designated “Son of Man,” and of the process of his generation. Whether incarnate or not, the “Son of Man” is of necessity always “in heaven,” – his own “kingdom within.” Accordingly the terms describing his parentage are devoid of any physical reference. “Virgin Maria” and “Holy Ghost” are synonymous, respectively, with “Water” and “the Spirit”; and these, again, denote the two constituents of every regenerated selfhood, its purified soul and divine spirit. Wherefore the saying of Jesus, – “Ye must be born again of Water and of the Spirit,” was a declaration, first, that it is necessary to every one to be born in the manner in which he himself is said to have been born; and, next, that the gospel narrative of his birth is really a presentation, dramatic and symbolical, of the nature of regeneration.
46. As the Immaculate Conception is the foundation of the Mysteries, so the Assumption is their crown. For the entire object and end of cosmic evolution is precisely this triumph and apotheosis of the soul. In this Mystery is beheld the consummation of the whole scheme of creation, – the perfectionment, perpetuation, and glorification of the individual human ego. The grave – that is the astral and material consciousness – cannot retain the Mother of God. She rises into heaven; she assumes its Queenship, and is – to cite the “Little Office the Blessed Virgin Mary” – “taken up into the chamber where the King of kings sits on His starry throne”; her festival, therefore, being held at the corresponding season in the astronomical year, when the constellation Virgo reaches the zenith and is lost to view in the solar rays. Thus, from end to end, the mystery of the soul’s evolution – the argument, that is, of the cosmic drama and the history of Humanity – is contained and enacted in the cultus of the Blessed Virgin. The Acts and the Glories of Mary are the one and supreme theme of the sacred Mysteries. [ See Appendices, No. XI.]
47. Now this discourse on the nature and constitution of the Ego, is really a discourse on the nature and constitution of the Church of Christ. [ See Appendices. No. X ]
LECTURE THE SIXTH
THE FALL ( No. I )
01. IN the city of Mecca, the birthplace of the iconoclast Mohammed, is a square edifice, thirty feet high, called the Kaabeh, or Cube. The Koran says that is was the first house of worship built for mankind. It has been known from time immemorial as Beit-Allah, which name is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew word Beth-El, House of God. According to Moslem legend, it was originally built by Adam, after the pattern of a similar structure in Paradise, and was restored by Abraham. It contains a white stone, – now blackened by time and by the kisses of pilgrims, – which stone was also, according to tradition, brought from Paradise. But, ages before the birth of Mohammed, the Kaabeh was an object of veneration as a Pantheon of the Gods, and the white stone was adored as a symbol of Venus.
02. This cubic House is a figure of the Human Kingdom framed on the pattern of the Universal Kingdom constructed in the primal Age or “Beginning.” And the original builder of the Kaabeh is said to have been Adam, because by “Adam” is understood the first Church of the Elect, the first Community of men “made in the Image of God.” This Church, having forfeited “Paradise,” and fallen away from perfection, was restored by Abraham, the Father of the Faithful or Initiates, this great Ancestor of the chosen people of God being no other than the personified Church of Brahma in India, whence the Mysteries “went down into Egypt,” and ultimately into all the world. The name Beth-El given to the Human House, denotes that man, when “cubic” or six-fold, is the habitation of Deity. In a future discourse it will be shown that these six stages or “days” of the creative week of the microcosm, correspond to the processes included in the Lesser and Greater Mysteries, and are, in order, Baptism, Temptation, Passion, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension; the “Marriage of the Lamb” being equivalent of the Sabbath, or Within of the Cube, the Seventh, last and supremest of all the Acts of the Soul. The white stone, which, as we have seen, has always been the object of special veneration, is the well-known symbol of the Divine Spirit, the nucleolus of the Cell, the Sun of the system, the Head of the Pyramid. It was regarded as sacred to Venus, because she is the Genius of the Fourth Day, the Revealer of the Sun and heavenly system, and to her, therefore, was peculiarly dedicated the emblem of Celestial Light. The Kaabeh is, by its very name, identified with the Kabbalistic Merkaba, the “car” in which the Lord God was said to descend to earth, – a phrase indicating the work of Manifestation, or Incarnation of Divine Being in “Creation.” The Merkaba, or Vehicle of God, is described by Ezekiel as resembling a throne of sapphire, upon which is seated Adonai; and supporting and drawing it are four living creatures or cherubim, having four faces, the face of an ox, the face of a lion, the face of a man, and the face of an eagle. And there are also four wheels of the chariot, a wheel by each cherub, “in appearance like chrysolite.” “And their whole body, and their necks, and their hands, and their wings, and the circles are full of eyes.”
03. The perusal of this descriptive vision, which is identical with certain passages in the Apocalypse of St. John, was permitted only by the ancient Hebrews to men who had attained the age of thirty years. [ Epistles of Jerome.] This age represents maturity, manhood, and reason, as typified in the solar month. Thus the Ark of Noë in which the Elect are preserved, is thirty cubits in height; the vision above cited occurs in his thirtieth year to Ezekiel, whose name signifies Strength of God; and Jesus, at the commencement of his mission of salvation, “begins to be about thirty years of age.” Similarly the Kaabeh, or Cubic House of the Microcosm, is thirty feet high.
04. This car, then, – within which Adonai rides, – typified by the Stone, called sapphire by Ezekiel, and jasper by St. John, is the Human Kingdom; and the living creatures which draw it are the four elements of that Kingdom, Body, Mind, Soul, and Spirit, corresponding respectively to the elemental spirits of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air, which constitute the Macrocosmic system. Of these living creatures the first in order, from without inwards, is the Ox, symbolizing the earth or body, ploughed by the sacred Kine of Demeter, laborious and obedient; the next is the Lion, type of the magnetic or “fiery” mind, whose reason is destructive and whose energy is rapacious, the seat of daring and of the masculine will, which, suffered to expatiate uncontrolled, would rend and profane the sacred mysteries. Third, in order, comes the genius of the Soul, having a human face, and symbolizing the true Person of the Microcosm, to whom, as to the Keeper of the House, belongs the constructive reason, the restraining and conservative force of the system. Last, and “over all the rest,” is the Eagle, the bird of the Sun or Adonai, type of light, strength, and freedom, and of the wind on whose wings the Spirit rides. As it is written. “Behold, he shall come up as an eagle and fly.” All these four cherubim are united in one, and make one fourfold creature, the wings of one being joined to the wings of another (Fig. 1.)
05. Over and around the seat or car of Adonai, as described by the seers of both Old and New Testaments, is a Rainbow, or Arch. This, the symbol of the Cup, of the Heavens encircling and enclosing the Cosmos, is in the Scriptures termed Mount Sion and the Mount of the Lord; by the Hindus it is called Mount Meru, and by the Greeks Olympus, the home of the Gods. And with all it is the symbol of the Celestial Kingdom, the Uncreate, which “was and is, and is to come;” wherein dwell the Seven Spirits of Light, the Elohim of the Godhead. From this holy Mount proceed all the oracles and dispensations of Heaven, and nothing is done in the macrocosmic or microcosmic worlds that is not first conceived and perfect eternally in the divine counsel. “For ever, O Lord,” says the psalmist, “Thy word is written in Heaven.” And for this reason the Scriptures declare that everything in the Tabernacle of the Wilderness was “made after the pattern of it in the holy Mount.” For the Tabernacle in the Wilderness is, like the Kaabeh, a figure of the Human House of God, pitched in the wilderness of the material world, and removable from one place to another.
06. The Mystery implied in the vision of Ezekiel, is in Genesis presented under the hieroglyph of the Four Rivers which, flowing from one Source, go out to water Paradise. This source is in the holy place of the Upper Eden. It is the “well of the Water of Life,” or God, Who is the Life and Substance of all things. And the Four heads of the river have names corresponding to the zones of the fourfold unit of existence, as exemplified in the Cell, and therefore to the faces of the fourfold cherub.
Thus, Phison, the first stream, is the Ancient, or the Body, which surrounds and encloses the agricultural or mineral Earth, wherein lies gold, prosperity, and renown. The second river is Gehon, signifying the vale of Gehenna or Purgation, the stream which traverses “Ethiopia” or Ath-opis, a compound word meaning literally the Fire-Serpent, or Astral Fluid. This river, therefore, is the igneous body or magnetic belt. The third river, which is Hiddekel, signifies the Double Tongue of Two Meanings, the stream which rises from and flows back to ancient or anterior ages, and which guides to Assyria, the land or place of Perfection. This river is the Soul, the permanent element in man, having neither beginning nor end, taking its origin in God anterior to time, and returning whence it came individualized and perfected. Divine in nature and human in experience, the language of the Soul is double, holding converse alike with heaven and earth. The fourth river is Euphrates, that is, the Power of the Pharaoh, – or Phiourah, Voice of Heaven, the oracle and divine Will of the human system. And the “paradise” watered by these four rivers is the equilibrated human nature, the “garden which the Lord God has planted in Eden,” or the Cosmos; that is, the Particular in the bosom of the Universal.
07. Not without deep meaning and design is the Book of Genesis or of Beginnings made to open with this description of the Four Rivers of Paradise. For their names and attributes supply the four wards of the Key wherewith to unlock all the mysteries of the Scriptures whose Prologue and Argument Genesis represents. These mysteries are, like the Rivers of Eden, distributed into four channels, each belonging to a distinct region of the fourfold human kingdom, whose queen and priestess is the Soul. And of these mystic or secret Scriptures, one of the most precious profound is the Drama of the Fall, whose acts, depicted in the first chapters of the Bible, serve, as a series of hieroglyphic tableaux, to delineate at once the history of Man and the object of Religion.
08. Maimonides, the most learned of the Rabbis, speaking of the Book of Genesis, says, “We ought not to take literally that which is written in the story of the Creation, nor entertain the same ideas of it as are common with the vulgar. If it were otherwise, our ancient sages would not have taken so much pains to conceal the sense, and to keep before the eyes of the uninstructed the veil of allegory which conceals the truths it contains.” In the same spirit it was observed by Jerome, that “the most difficult and obscure of the holy books contain as many secrets as they do words, concealing many things even under each word.” “All the Fathers of the second century,” says Mosheim, “attributed a hidden and mysterious sense to the words of Scripture.” Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Gregory of Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Ambrose, held that the Mosaic account of Creation and of the Fall was a series of allegories. The opinion of Origen on the same subject was plainly expressed. “What man,” he asks, “is so simple as to believe that God personifying a gardener, planted a garden in the East? that the tree of Life was a real tree which could be touched, and of which the fruit had the power of conferring immortality?”
09. It is hardly necessary to enlarge on this point, or to bring forward further authorities. Suffice it to say that this interior method of interpreting sacred writings was, and still is, the method of all who posses the Gnosis, or secret knowledge of the mysteries, their mere letter being abandoned to the vulgar and to the “critics,” as the husk or shell, which serves but to conceal, encase, and preserve the life-giving seed, the priceless pearl of the true “Word.”
10. Both the story of the Fall, and all cognate Myths or Parables, are far older and more universal than the ordinary unlearned reader of the Bible supposes. For the Bible itself, in its Hebrew form, is a comparatively recent compilation and adaptation of mysteries, the chief scenes of which were sculptured on temple walls, and written or painted on papyri, ages before the time of Moses. History tells us, moreover, that the Book of Genesis as it now stands, is the work, not even of Moses, but of Ezra or Esdras, who lived at the time of the Captivity, – between five and six hundred years before our era, – and that he recovered it and other writings by the process already described as Intuitional Memory. “My heart,” he says, “uttered understanding, and wisdom grew in my breast: for the Spirit strengthened my memory.” If, then, by such means he recovered what Moses had previously delivered orally to Israel, it is obvious that Esdras must have been initiated into the ancient tradition in a former state of existence; since no memory could have enabled him to recover that which he had never known, and which, – when the Divine commission to rewrite it was given him, – was so wholly lost that “no man knew any of the things that had been done in the world since the beginning.” As the Talmud says, “Ezra could not have received the Word, if Moses had not first declared it.”
11. Neither must it be supposed that we have the Books of Moses as recovered and edited by Esdras. The system of interpolation and alteration already referred to as largely applied to the Bible, especially affected the Pentateuch. And foremost among those who thus perverted it were the Pharisees, denounced in the New Testament, who greatly modified the text, introducing their own ritual into the law, incorporating with it their commentaries, and suppressing portions which condemned their doctrine and practice. According to Spinoza, “there was before the time of the Maccabees, no canon of holy writ extant; the books we now have were selected from among many others by and on the authority of the Pharisees of the second Temple, who also instituted the formulae for the prayers used in the synagogue. [ Tractatus Theologicol-Politicus ]
12. Sacerdotal or rabbinical as were these interpolations and corruptions, they effected principally the books of ceremonial law and historical narrative, and referred to public customs, temple rites, priestly privileges, and questions of mere national interest. They hardly touched the great parabolic Myths which lie embedded in the Hebrew Scriptures like so many gems encased in clay. And gems these are, which, from prehistoric times, have been the universal property of all initiated nations, and especially of the Hindu and Egyptian races, from which last indeed Moses originally drew them, as is occultly intimated when it is said: “And the children of Israel borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold; and they spoiled the Egyptians.”
13. With regard to this particular Myth of the Fall, the walls of ancient Thebes, Elephantine, Edfou and Karmak bear evidence that long before Moses taught, and certainly ages before Esdras wrote, its acts and symbols were embodied in the religious ceremonials of the people, of whom, according to Manetho, Moses was himself a priest. And “the whole history of the fall of man is,” as says Sharpe in a work on Egypt, “of Egyptian origin. The temptation of woman by the serpent and of man by the woman, the sacred tree of knowledge, the cherubs guarding with flaming swords the door of the Garden, the warfare declared between the woman and the serpent, may all be seen upon the Egyptian sculptured monuments.”
14. LET us now examine, in the order indicated by the hieroglyphic symbol of the Four Rivers, the significations of the mystic story to which it is prefixed.
Taking first the meaning corresponding to the river Phison or the Body we have presented to us the condition of humanity in the perfect state, with special reference to the just and harmonious relations existing in that state between the Body and the Soul. This perfect, condition is exemplified by a picture of the first Mystic Community, Lodge, or Church of men formed by the image of God, who under the name of Sons of God, were distinguished from mere rudimentary men not made in the Divine image, – the still materialistic part of mankind.
This perfect condition was, and still is, reached – in the aggregate, as in the individual – by a process of evolution, or gradual unfoldment and growth from the lowest to the highest. They who first attained to this perfect state are celebrated by Ovid and others as the men of the “Golden Age,” the primal Sabbath of the world under Saturn. The Age is reached, whether individually or collectively, whenever the Divine Spirit working within, has completed the generation of Man, making him spiritually “in the image of God, male and female,” “Such is the Son of God” having power, because in him the soul dominates the body, and the body has no will of his own apart from that of the Divine Spirit.
15. In this aspect of the parable, then, “Adam” represents the bodily or sensuous nature in man; and his wife his psychic and spiritual nature. The epithet translated “help,” “helper,” or “helpmeet,” applied to the woman, signifies an overseeing guide; and the name Isha, by which at first she is designated, denotes the generative substance, or feminine principle, of humanity. After the fall she is Chavah, or Eve, a term denoting the circle of life, and represented by a serpent. As the soul, she has two aspects, the earthly and the heavenly, and is indicated, therefore, by two kinds of serpent, the serpent of the dust, or tempter, and the serpent which represents the Divine wisdom or Sophia: in which aspect she is man’s initiator into divine knowledges. This heavenly serpent, the representative of the solar ray, – as opposed to the serpent of the subterraneous fire, – is familiar to us under the name of “Seraph,” the title given to angels of the highest order in the celestial hierarchy, and signifying “the burning,” – Sons of the Sun. In Egyptian symbology the Divine Seraph or Serpent appears constantly, surmounting a Cross and wearing the crown of Maut, the Mother, that is, the Living Mother, who is the original and celestial Reason. This is the Serpent on the Cross by looking to which, another sacred parable tells us, the Israelites were healed of the venomous bites inflicted on them by the Serpent of the Dust, the earthly and destructive reason, whose figure is derived, not from the life-giving sun-ray, but from the flame of the devouring and rapacious fire. And thus it is said in the Gospel, that by the exhibition of this Divine Wisdom, by the restoration of the “Woman” or “Mother of the Living” to her rightful throne, will the world finally be redeemed from the dominion of the serpent of the Abyss, that is, of the lower and materialistic reason. “For as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” For “Christ” is identical with Amun-Ra, “our Lord the Sun,” offspring of the heavenly Maut. And the means of delivery for mankind from the “ravenous lion” and the “fiery serpents” of the outer intellect or earthly “wilderness of Sin” will be the exaltation of the Dual humanity at once “Mother” and “Son.”
16. In the individual or microcosmic system, the celestial Wisdom or Soul of the Universe, finds expression as the Soul of the Man. And the condition of humanity “unfallen” and sinless, is one of obedience on the part of the sense-nature, or “Adam,” to the rule of the Soul, or “Eve.” But, by the “Fall” this state of things is directly reversed, and the “woman” or the “Living” becomes subject to this sense-nature. This is “the Curse.” And the curse will be removed, Paradise regained, and the second Sabbath of the Golden Age restored, only when the “woman” is again invested with her rightful supremacy.
17. Eve is said to be taken from the side of the sleeping Adam, because, although, the Soul subsists in all men, she becomes revealed only in such as have transcended the consciousness of the Body. When the “Adam” is asleep, passive, unassertive, the Soul, or Living man, is made manifest. Hers it is to guide, to rule, to command; hers the vocation of the Seer, the Pythoness, the Interpreter and Guardian of the Mysteries.
18. Tokens of the superior respect once accorded to the Soul, and to Woman as the Soul’s representative, abound in the historical remains of Egypt, where, as we learn from numberless sculptures, writings, and paintings, the goddess Isis held rank above her husband, the chief instructor in the Mysteries was represented as a woman, priestly and noble families traced their pedigree through the female line, and public acts and chronicles were dated by the name of the high priestess of the year.
19. Such then in the “Edenic” or unfallen state, are the mutual relations of Adam and Eve, – Sense and Soul. And the parable sets forth the end of the Edenic Sabbath, the ruin of the Golden Age, the “Fall” of the Church, as brought about by disobedience to the Divine Voice, or Central Spirit to which the Soul ought to be always dutiful. Sin thus originates with the Soul, as the responsible part of man; and she whose office is to be to him overseer and guide, becomes his betrayer. The forbidden fruit communicated by the Soul to Adam is the vital flame or Consciousness, described by classical poets as the “Fire of Heaven.” For, as God is supreme and original Consciousness, the first manifestation of human consciousness has its seat in the Soul. In the pure, Edenic state, or, as it is called, the state of innocence, therefore, the shrine of this heavenly Fire is in the spiritual part of man. But Prometheus, or pseudo-thought, – the spurious thought as opposed to the true Hermetic reason, – steals or “draws down” this Fire from its original place, and transfers it to the outer man or body. Thenceforward, the consciousness of man ceases to reside in the soul, and takes up its abode in the body. That is to say, that man in his “fallen” condition is conscious only of the selfhood of the body, and until regenerate, or redeemed from the “Fall,” he does not again become conscious and vitalized in the soul. To find the Soul is the first step towards finding Christ; that is, as the Catholic Church puts it, “Mary brings us to Jesus.” The materialistic, unregenerate man is totally unconscious of his soul. He is aware only of the body, and his percipience of life is limited to the bodily sense. By the transference of the vitalizing Fire from the “heaven” to the “earth” of the human system, the lower nature is inflamed and set at war with the Divine Spirit or “Zeus” within the man. This act is the Promethean Theft, punished so terribly by the “Father” at the hand of Hermes, the true Thought, or Angel of Understanding. For by this act, man becomes bound and fettered to the things of sense, the victim of a perverse will, which, as an insatiable bird of prey, continually rends and devours him. Thus is formulated that condition which Paul so graphically laments: – “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man! who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
20. Although, then, sin originates in the soul, the bodily nature is the ultimate offender. Hence it is to “Adam” that the interrogation is addressed: – “Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” And the penalty pronounced upon “Adam” enumerates the sorrows of the body in its “fallen” state, and foretells its inevitable return to the “dust” and “earth” of which it is; – a penalty, be it observed, which is not incurred by “Eve,” the soul. And of her we read that her will, ceasing to polarize itself inwards and upwards upon her Divine Centre, is now, by the effect of the “Fall,” directed outwards and downwards towards her earthly mate. Like “Lot’s Wife,” in another and cognate parable, “she looks back, and straightway becomes a pillar of Salt.” Salt was, in alchemic terminology, a synonym for Matter. This transformation into Salt is the converse of the “Great Work”; it is the Fixation of the Volatile. The Great Work is, in alchemic science, the Volatilization of the Fixed. By this act of depolarization the soul imprisons herself definitely in the body, and becomes his subject until that “Redemption” for which, says Paul, “all creation groans and travails in the pain of desire.”
21. In this first of the four explanations of our parable, the Tree of Life is the secret of Transmutation or of Eternal Life, of which it is impossible for the rebellious Adam to taste. For, as long as the elements of disorder remain in the body, so long as the flesh lusts against the spirit, so long as the Microcosm admits two diverse wills and is swayed by two adverse laws; – so long is the Fruit of this Tree unattainable. If it were possible for this ruined and disobedient Adam to “eat and live for ever,” that eternal life would necessarily be the eternal hell of the Calvinists, that endless condition of torment and defiance of God, that life indestructible in the midst of destruction, which would – were it possible – constitute the division of the universe, and set up in opposition to the Divine rule, an equal and co-eternal throne of devildom.
22. As, in this reading of the myth, Adam represents the body, Eve the soul, and the Divine Voice the Spirit, so the serpent typifies the astral element or lower reason. For this subtle element is the intermediary between soul and body, the “fiery serpent” whose food is the “dust” that is, the perception of the senses, which are concerned with the things of time and matter only. This “serpent,” if not controlled and dominated by the will of the Initiate, leads the soul into bondage and perdition, by destroying the equilibrium of the system and dividing the Hearth-Fire. But though, when not thus dominated, the astral fire becomes, through its function of Tempter, the Destroyer and agent of Typhon or Negation, it is also, when under the dominion of the married spirit and soul, an element of power and a glass of vision.
23. The deposition from her rightful place of the Living Mother, Isha, Chavah, or Eve, typified by the celestial serpent, is then brought about by the seductions of the earthly and astral serpent. Thence ensues the ruin of the Edenic order. The soul is subject to the body, intuition to sense, the inner to the outer, the higher to the lower. Henceforth the monitions of the soul must be suppressed, her aspirations quenched, her conceptions difficult, her fruit quickened and brought forth with labour and sorrow. Intuition wars with passion, and every victory of the spiritual man is bought with anguish. And between the kabbalistic “woman” and the astral “serpent” there must be perpetual enmity; for henceforward the astral is antagonistic to the psychic, and between the intellectual and the intuitional “a great gulf is fixed.” For this astral serpent is the terrene Fire, and the kabbalistic woman is the Water, the Maria, which is destined to quench it. “She shall crush his head, and he shall lie in wait for her heel.”
Such is, on the plane historical, whether of the individual or of the Church, the meaning of “Paradise” and its “loss” – the gradual attainment of a certain high grade, an the decline therefrom; a loss, the immediate effects of which manifest themselves in a subversion of the divine-natural order, and in the supremacy of the outer over the inner, the lower over the higher.
24. To humanity in Paradise, made in the divine Image, and unfallen, were given as meat the tree-fruits and the herb-grains; then, as Ovid tells us, “men were contented with the food which Nature freely bestowed.” For the bodily appetites knew no law but that of a healthy natural intuition, and obeyed the impulse of the God within, desiring no other nourishment than that for which alone the body was anatomically and physiologically designed. But, so soon as it acquired a perverse, selfish will, a new lust arose; for a new and subhuman nature appeared in it, the nature of the beast of prey, whose image the fallen body has put on. That this is literal truth, all the poets, all the seers, all the regenerate testify, bearing witness also that Paradise can never be regained, Regeneration never completed, man never fully redeemed, until the body is brought under the law of Eden, and has cleansed itself thoroughly from the stain of blood. None will ever know the joys of Paradise who cannot live like Paradise-men; none will ever help to restore the Golden Age to the world who does not first restore it in himself. No man, being a shedder of blood, or an eater of flesh, ever touched the Central Secret of things, or laid hold of the Tree of Life. Hence it is written of the Holy City: “Without are dogs.” For the foot of the carnivorous beast cannot tread the golden floors; the lips polluted with blood may not pronounce the Divine Name. Never was spoken a truer word than this; and if we should speak no other, we should say all that man need know. For if he will but live the life of Eden, he shall find all its joys and its mysteries within his grasp. “He who will do the will of God, shall know of the doctrine.” But until “father and mother” are forsaken, – that is, until the disciple is resolved to let no earthly affections or desires withhold him from entering the Perfect Way, – Christ will not be found nor Paradise regained. “Many indeed begin the rites,” says Plato, “but few are fully purified.” And a greater than Plato has warned us that “the Way is strait and the Gate narrow that lead unto Life, and few they are who find it.”
25. COMING next to the philosophical reading of our Parable, we find that on this plane the Man is the Mind or rational Intellect, out of which is evolved the Woman, the Affection or Heart; that the Tree of Knowledge represents Maya or Illusion; the Serpent, the Will of the Body; the Tree of Life, the Divine Gnosis – or interior knowledge; and the sin which has brought and which brings ruin on mankind, Idolatry.
In this aspect of the Fall, we have presented to us the decline of Religion from the celestial to the astral. The affection of the unfallen mind is fixed on things above, spiritual and real, and not on things beneath, material and phantasmal. Idolatry is the adoration of the shadow instead of the substance, the setting up of eidolon in the place of the God. It is thus no specific art, but the general tendency towards Matter and Sense, that constitutes the Fall. And of this tendency the world is full, for it is the “original sin” of every man born of the generation of “Adam”; and only that man is free of it who is “born again of the Spirit” and made “one with the Father,” his own central God.
26. Into this sin of Idolatry the human Heart declines by listening to the monitions and beguilements of the lower will, the will of the sensual nature. Withdrawing her desire from the Tree of Life, – the Gnosis, – the Affection fixes on the false and deceitful apples of Illusion, pleasant and desirable “to the eyes” or outer senses. “Your eyes shall be opened,” urges the lower will, “and you shall be as Gods, knowing both worlds.” The Affection yields to the seductions of this promise, she entangles herself in Illusion, she communicates the poison to the Mind, and all is lost. Man knows indeed, but the knowledge he has gained is that of his own shame and nakedness. “Their eyes were opened, and they knew – that they were naked.” By this act of idolatry man becomes instantly aware of the body, of sense, of Matter, of appearance; he falls into another and a lower world, precipitated headlong by that fatal step outwards from the celestial to the astral terrene. Henceforth the fruit of the divine Gnosis, the healing Tree, is not for him, he has lost the faculty of discerning Substance and Reality; the eye of the Spirit is closed, and that of Sense is opened; he is immersed in delusion and shadow, and the glamour of Maya. Sudden divorce has taken place between the spirit and the soul. He has lost the “Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory.” And, so long as he remains in the “wilderness” of the illusory world, the Gnosis is guarded against him by the Elementary Spirits and their fourfold swords, which, to the man having lost both the power and the secret of the Dissolvent, are an impenetrable barrier.
27. We now enter on the Ethical and Psychic interpretation of the myth, which interpretation is itself a dual character, affecting on the one hand the Church, on the other the Individual.
In this third aspect of the parable the Man represents the human Reason; the Woman, Faith, or the religious Conscience; the Serpent, the lower nature; the Tree of Knowledge the kingdom of this world; and the Tree of Life the kingdom of God. The religious Conscience set over the human Reason as his guide, overseer, and ruler, whether in the general, as the Church, or in the particular, as the Individual, falls when – listening to the suggestions of the lower nature – she desires, seeks, and at length defiles herself with the ambitions, vanities, and falsehoods of the kingdom of this present world. Nor does she fall alone. For ceasing to be a trustworthy guide, she becomes herself serpent and seducer to human Reason, leading him into false paths, betraying and deluding him at every turn, until, if she have her way, she will end by plunging him into the lowest depths of abject ignorance, foolishness, and weakness, there to be devoured by the brood of Unreason, and annihilated forever. For she is now no longer the true wife Faith, she is become the wanton, Superstition; and rather than heed to obey monitions such as hers, he must, if he would save himself, assert dominion over her and keep her in bondage and subjection to his authority. Better far that he should be master in the Man, than Superstition, whose method is folly, whose end is madness and death.
28. The church at her best, unfallen, is the glass to the lamp of Truth, guarding the sacred flame within, and transmitting unimpaired to her children the light received upon its inner surface. Such is the function of the priesthood, in idea and intention; but not, now at least, in fact and deed. For through the failure of the priesthood to resist the materializing influences of the world upon the side exposed to the world, the lamp-glass has become clouded that the light within is either unable to pass through it at all, or passes only to cast around, instead of genial rays, ghastly and misleading shadows. Or, may – be, the light has expired altogether; and, not the maintenance of the flame, but the concealment of its loss, is become the prime object of solicitude for its whilom guardians.
29. The world’s history shows that hitherto this Fall has been the common fate of all Churches. Nor is its cause far to seek, seeing that all human histories are essentially one and the same, whether the subject be an individual or an aggregation of individuals. A Church is, like every other personal organism, a compound organism. Between the circumferential containing body, and the central informing spirit, – having a side turned to each, and uniting the mental with the spiritual, – stands the soul to which the Church, Priesthood, or Intuition corresponds, in order by her meditation to reconcile the world to God and maintain the Man in grace. And so long as, by virtue of the purity of such medium, the stream of life and light from the central spirit of Truth is enabled to find free course and circulation, perfect health continues in the system. But when, inclining towards the outer and lower elements, the Church abandons the inner and higher, and becomes of the earth earthy, the flame within her shrine, choked and quenched, departs, leaving the sanctuary tenantless. Then, no longer of the heavenly, but of the earthly kingdom, the fallen Church becomes the betrayer and the enemy of man. To confess the truth – that she has suffered the sacred flame to expire – would, in respect of all for which she is now solicitous, – her material sway and interests, – be fatal. Hence the fact that she is naked and empty must be studiously concealed, and all approach forbidden, that no one not concerned to keep the secret may spy upon her darkened shrine. Thenceforth the Church stands between God and the people, not to bring them together, but to keep them apart. With light and spirit lost to view, and the way to the kingdom of God blocked by superstition, the rational man either ceases to believe that any such kingdom subsists, and, falling in his turn, he plunges into the gulf of atheism or agnosticism; or, withheld by his traitor spouse from attaining the fruition of the Tree of Life, contents himself with “stones for bread,” and with “serpents” of the astral in place of the true celestial mysteries.
30. Thus fallen and degraded, the Church becomes, as mankind too well knows, a Church “of this world,” greedy of worldly dignities, emoluments, and dominion, intent on foisting on the belief of her votaries, in the name of authority and orthodoxy, fables and worse than fables, apples of Sodom and Gomorrah, Dead-sea fruit; – a Church jealous of “the Letter which killeth;” ignorant of, or bitterly at enmity with, “the Spirit which giveth life.”
31. WE now reach the last and innermost interpretation of our fourfold hieroglyph, the spiritual and creative secret embodied in the Edenic allegory. This secret is sometimes more obscurely alluded to as the Lapse of heavenly beings from their first happy estate into sub-celestial spheres, and their final redemption by means of penance done through incarnation in the flesh. It need scarcely be said that this imagined Lapse is also a parable designed to veil and preserve a truth. And in its interpretation is found the creative secret, the projection of Spirit into Matter; the Fall or Descent of Substance into Maya or Illusion. Hence results Chavah, the Eve of Genesis, and circle of life conditioned as past, present, and future, and corresponding to Jehovah, the covenant name of Deity. In this reading of the parable the Tree of Divination or Knowledge becomes Motion, or the Kalpa, – the period of Existence as distinguished from Being; the Tree of Life is Rest, or the Sabbath, the Nirvana; Adam is Manifestation; the Serpent – no longer of the lower but of the higher sphere – is the celestial Serpent or Seraph of heavenly Counsel. For now the whole signification of the myth is changed, and the act of Arche, the Woman, is the Divine act of Creation. Ase, the root of the Hebrew word for Woman, signifies the generating female Fire, the Living Substance producing or causing production. Its Coptic form, Est, gives Esta or Hestia, the goddess of the temple-fire, for the continual preservation of which the order of Vestal virgins was established. This word, Est, is identical also with the Latin and Greek equivalents of IS, whence are derived all the modern European forms of the same affirmative, as also the names Esther and Easter.
32. Adam signifies the Red, hence the Blood; and in Blood, Substance becomes incarnate and takes form as Nature or Isis, which name is, of course, but another rendering of the affirmative EST. Hence Nature, the incarnate Archë, is said to be born from the side of Adam, or Manifestation by Blood. “Blood,” as says “Eliphas Levi,” “is the first incarnation of the Universal Fluid; it is the materialized vital Light. It lives only by perpetually transforming itself, for it the universal Proteus, the great Arcanum of Life.”
33. Now, as has been said in a former discourse, Motion is the means by which Spirit becomes visible as Matter, for Spirit and Matter represent two conditions of one thing. Therefore by the Tree of Divination of Good and Evil, in this interpretation, must be understood that condition by means of which Spirit, projected into appearance, becomes manifested under the veil of Maya.
34. Among the sacred symbols and insignia of the Gods depicted in Egyptian sculpture, none is repeated so often as the Sphere. This Sphere is the emblem of Creative Motion, because the Manifesting Force is rotatory; being, in fact, the “Wheel of the Spirit of Life” described by Ezekial as “a wheel within a wheel,” inasmuch as the whole system of the universe, from the planet to its ultimate particle, revolves in the same manner. And for this reason, and as an evidence of the knowledge which dictated the ancient symbology of the Catholic Church, the Eucharistic Wafer, figure of the Word made Flesh, is circular. The sacramental sphere, poised on the head of a Serpent or Seraph, is a common hieroglyph in Egyptian sacred tableaux; and sculptures bordered with processions of such emblematic figures are frequent in the ancient temples. The apple, or round Fruit of the Tree of the Kalpa, – of which, by the advice of the “Serpent” of heavenly Counsel, the Divine Archë partakes, and thereby brings about the “Fall” or Manifestation of Spirit in Matter, – is no other than the Sacramental Host, type of the Bread of Life or Body of God, figured in the Orb of the Sun, reflected in the disk of every star, planet, and molecule, and elevated for adoration on the Monstrance of the universe.
35. Only when the Naros, or Cycle of the Six Days, shall again reach their Seventh Day, will “the Lord of the Seventh” – whom the Latins adored with unveiled heads under the name of Septimianus, – return, and the veil of Illusion or Maya, be taken away. The anticipation of the Seventh Day of the renewed Arcadia, the Seven Days’ festival of liberty and peace, was held by the Greeks under the name of the Kronia, and by the Latins under that of the Saturnalia. This redemptive Sabbath is spoken of in the gospel as the “harvest of the end of the world,” when Saturn or Sator (the Sower) as “Lord of the Harvest,” “shall return again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” And when that day comes, the Fruit of the Tree of Life, or Nirvana, shall be given for the healing of the universe; rest from motion shall put an end to Matter; and Substance, now by the “Fall” brought under the dominion of Adam or Manifestation, shall return to Her original divine estate.
36. It remains only to speak of the symbolic Bow or Cup encircling the microcosmic car of Adonai, and representing, as already explained, the heavenly Mount, of which the phenomenal heaven is the transcript. The planisphere of the heavens, familiar in all ancient astrological science, is divided into two parts by a line passing from east to west, and representing the horizon. The portion of the planisphere below this horizontal line comprises the lower and invisible hemisphere; that which is above, the upper and visible. At the opening of the year the constellation of the Celestial Virgin, Astræa, Isis, or Ceres, is in ascension. She has beneath her feet in the lower horizon the sign Python or Typhon, the Dragon of the Tree of the Hesperides, who rises after her, pursuing her, and aiming his fangs at her heel.
37. This heavenly Virgin is the regenerate Eve, Maria the Immaculate, the Mother of the Sun-God. Her first “decan” is that of the Sun, whose birth as Mithras was celebrated on the twenty-fifth day of December, – the true birth of the year, – at midnight, at which time she appears above the visible horizon. The figure of the sun was consequently placed over this “decan” on the planispheric chart, and rests, therefore, on the head of the Virgin, while the first “decan” of Libra, which is that of the Moon, is under her feet. In her we recognize the Woman of the Apocalypse, victorious over her adversary the Dragon, and restoring by her manifestation the equilibrium – Libra – of the universe.
38. Thus the Heavens eternally witness to the promise of the final redemption of the Earth, and of the return of the Golden Age, and the restoration of Eden. And the keynote of that desired harmony is to be found in the exaltation on all the universal fourfold planes, physical, philosophical, physic, and celestial, of the WOMAN.
Once again, in the end as in the beginning, shall the Soul rehabilitated, the Affection regenerated, the Intuition purified, the Divine Substance redeemed from Matter, be throned, crowned, and glorified.
39. That the time of rising of this Celestial Virgin and of the rehabilitation of truth by the Woman-Messias of the Interpretation is near at hand, they who watch the “times” and the “heavens” may know by more than one token. To name but one: the sign Leo, which upon the celestial chart precedes the ascension of the Woman, going before her as her herald, is the sign of the present Head of the Catholic Church. When assuming that title, he declared his office to be that of the “Lion of the Tribe of Juda ,” the domicile of the Sun, the tribe appointed to produce the Christ. To the ascension of this constellation, preparing, as it were, the Way of the Divine Virgin, the prophecy of Israel in Genesis refers: –
“Juda is a strong lion; my son, thou art gone up. The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda till the coming of the Messenger – or Shiloh – the expectation of the nations.”
And not only does the chief Bishop of the Church bear this significant name of the “Lion,” but he is also the thirteenth of that name, and Thirteen is the number of the Woman and of the lunar cycle, the number of Isis and of the Microcosm. It is the number which indicates the fullness of all things, and the consummation of the “Divine Marriage,” the At-one-ment of Man and God.
Moreover the Arms of Leo XIII. represent a Tree on a Mount, between two triune Lilies, and in the dexter chief point a blazing Star; with the motto “Lumen in Coelo.” What is this tree but the Tree of Life? these lilies but the Lilies of the new Annunciation, – of the Ave which is to reverse the curse of Eva? What star is this, if not the Star of the Second Advent? History repeats itself only because all history is already written in “heaven.”
40. For the signs of the Zodiac, or of the “Wheel of Life,” as the name signifies, are not arbitrary, they are the Words of God, traced on the planisphere by the finger of God, and first expressed in intelligible hieroglyphs by men of the “Age of Saturn,” who knew the truth, and held the Key of the Mysteries. The Wheel of the Zodiac thus constituted the earliest Bible; for on it is traced the universal history of the whole Humanity. It is a mirror at once of Past, Present and Future; for these three are but modes of the Eternal NOW, which, philosophically, is the only tense. And its twelve signs are the twelve Gates of the heavenly City of religious science; the Kingdom of God the Father.
41. The philosophy of the day, unable, through its ignorance of the soul, to solve the riddle of the Zodiac, concludes that all sacred history is a mere tissue of fables, framed in accordance with the accidental forms of the constellations. But, as the Initiate knows, these signs are written on the starry chart because they represent eternal verities in the experience of the soul. They are the processes or acts of the soul, under individualization in Man. And so far from being ascribed to Man because written in the Zodiac, they were written in the Zodiac because recognized as occurring in humanity. In the Divine order, pictures precede written words as the expression of ideas. The planisphere of the Zodiac is thus a picture-bible; and the images embodied in it have controlled the expression of all written Revelation.
42. THIS discourse was closed for the writer by a vision, an account of which will form an equally fitting conclusion for the reader. This vision was as follows: –
“A golden chalice, like those used in Catholic rites, but having three linings, was given to me by an Angel. These linings, he told me, signified the three degrees of the heavens, – purity of life, purity of heart, and purity of doctrine. Immediately afterwards, there appeared a great dome-covered temple, Moslem in style, and on the threshold of it a tall Angel clad in linen, who with an air of command was directing a party of men engaged in destroying and throwing into the street numerous crucifixes, bibles, prayer-books, altar-utensils, and other sacred emblems. As I stood watching, somewhat scandalized at the apparent sacrilege, a Voice at a great height in the air, cried with startling distinctness, “All the idols he shall utterly destroy!” Then the same Voice, seeming to ascend still higher, cried to me, “Come hither and see!” Immediately it appeared to me that I was lifted up by my hair and carried above the earth. And suddenly there arose in mid-air the apparition of a man of majestic aspect, in an antique garb, and surrounded by a throng of prostrate worshippers. At first the appearance of this figure was strange to me; but while I looked intently at it, a change came over the face and dress, and I thought I recognized Buddha, – the Messiah of India. But scarcely had I convinced myself of this, than a great Voice, like a thousand voices shouting in unison, cried to the worshippers: “Stand upright on your feet: – worship God only!” And again the figure changed, as though a cloud had passed before it, and now it seemed to assume the shape of Jesus. Again, I saw the kneeling adorers, and again the mighty Voice cried, “Arise! worship God only!” The sound of this Voice was like thunder, and I noted that it had seven echoes. Seven times the cry reverberated, ascending with each utterance, as though mounting from sphere to sphere. Then suddenly I fell through the air, as though a hand had been withdrawn from sustaining me: and again touching the earth, I stood within the temple I had seen in the first part of my vision. At its east end was a great altar, from above and behind which came faintly a white and beautiful Light, the radiance of which was arrested and obscured by a dark curtain suspended from the dome before the altar. And the body of the temple, which, but for the curtain, would have been fully illuminated, was plunged in gloom, broken only by the fitful gleams of a few half-expiring oil-lamps, hanging here and there from the vast cupola. At the right of the altar stood the same tall Angel I had before seen on the temple threshold, holding in his hand a smoking censer. Then, observing that he was looking earnestly at me, I said to him: “Tell me, what curtain is this before the Light, and why is the temple in darkness?” And he answered, “This veil is not One, but Three; and the Three are Blood, Idolatry, and the Curse of Eve. And to you it is given to withdraw them; be faithful and courageous; the time has come.” Now the first curtain was red, and very heavy; and with a great effort I drew it aside, and said, “I have put away the veil of blood from before Thy Face; shine, O Lord God!” But a Voice from behind the folds of the two remaining coverings answered me, “I cannot shine, because of the idols.” And lo, before me a curtain of many colours, woven about with, woven about with all manner of images, crucifixes, madonnas, Old and New Testaments, prayer-books, and other religious symbols, some strange and hideous like the idols of China and Japan, some beautiful like those of the Greeks and Christians. And the weight of the curtain was like lead, for it was thick with gold and silver embroideries. But with both hands I tore it away, and cried, “I have put away the idols from before Thy Face; shine, O Lord God!” And now the Light was clearer and brighter. But yet before me hung a third veil, all of black; and upon it was traced in outline the figure of four Lilies on a single stem inverted, their cups opening downwards. And from behind this veil, the Voice answered me again, “I cannot shine, because of the curse of Eve.” Then I put forth all my strength, and with a great will rent away the curtain, crying, “I have put away her curse from before Thee. Shine, O Lord God!”
And there was no more a veil, but a landscape, more glorious and perfect than words can paint, a Garden of absolute beauty, filled with trees of palm, and olive, and fig, rivers of clear water and lawns of tender green; and distant groves and forests framed about by mountains crowned with snow; and on the brow of their shining peaks a rising Sun, whose light it was I had seen behind the veils. And about the Sun, in mid-air hung white misty shapes of great Angels, as clouds at morning float above the place of dawn. And beneath, under a mighty tree of cedar, stood a white elephant, bearing in his golden houdah a beautiful woman robed as queen, and wearing a crown. But while I looked, entranced, and longing to look for ever, the garden, the altar, and the temple were carried up from me into Heaven. Then as I stood gazing upwards, came again the Voice, at first high in the air, but falling earthwards as listened. And behold, before me appeared the white pinnacle of a minaret, and around and beneath it the sky was all gold and red with the glory of the rising Sun. And I perceived that now the voice was that of a solitary Muezzin standing on the minaret with uplifted hands and crying: –
“Put away Blood from among you!
Destroy your Idols!
Restore your Queen!”
And straightway a Voice, like that of an infinite multitude, coming as though from above and around and beneath my feet, – a Voice like a wind rising upwards from caverns, under the hills to their loftiest far-off heights among the stars, – responded, –
“Worship God alone!” [ See Appendice, No III, Part 2 ]
LECTURE THE SEVENTH
THE FALL ( No. II )
01. OUR subject is again the cataclysmal event mystically called the Fall of Man. Before entering upon it we will recapitulate briefly what has been said respecting the nature of man. As already explained this is fourfold. This fourfold nature is itself included in a dual personality. Consisting of male and female, Reason and Intuition, Man is, in this sense, a twofold being. But the masculine moiety comprises the dualism of Sense and Intellect; and the feminine moiety, the dualism of Soul and Conscience.
02. Owing to this duality of his constitution, every doctrine relating to Man has, primarily a dual significance and application. And owing to his fourfoldness, it has also, secondarily, a fourfold significance and application. The interpretation, therefore, of any doctrine must, to be complete, be at the least twofold. And since there is between the inner and outer spheres of man’s being an exact correspondence, by virtue of which, whatever subsists or occurs in the one sphere has its counterpart in the other, the terms which describe the one apply also to the other; and no interpretation or application is complete which does not include both spheres.
03. Thus it comes, – to quote a fragment of Hermetic derivation, – that: –
“All Scriptures which are the true Word of God have a dual interpretation, the Intellectual and the Intuitional, the Apparent and the Hidden.
“For nothing can come forth from God save that which is fruitful.
“As is the nature of God, so is the Word of God’s Mouth.
“The Letter alone is barren; the Spirit and the Letter give Life.
“But that Scripture is the more excellent which is exceeding fruitful, and brings forth abundant signification.
“For God is able to say many things in one; as the perfect Ovary contains many seeds in its Chalice.
“Therefore there are in the Scriptures of God’s Word certain Writings which, as richly yielding Trees, bear more abundantly than others in the self-same holy Garden.
“And one of the most excellent is the Parable of the Fall, which, as a stream parted into four branches, has a fourfold head, and is a word exceeding rich.”
For a parable it is, and not a history, as ordinarily understood, but having a hidden, that is, a mystic meaning; – a parable, moreover, which, while founded indeed upon a particular fact, is true for all time, in that it is perpetually being enacted. Being thus, the Parable of the Fall constitutes an Eternal Verity.
04. The opening chapters of the sacred books exhibit, then, not merely events occurring in, and having relation to, a particular place or time, but the meaning and object of religion at large, the creation of man, the nature of sin, and the method of salvation; and all these as perpetually subsisting. These chapters constitute thus a kind of argument or abstract prefixed to the divine drama of man’s spiritual history. And the key to their interpretation is the word NOW.
05. For, in the Divine Mind, there is no past, in the Divine economy, no future. God is I AM, and always IS. The term Jehovah combines in one word the tenses past, present, and future of the verb I AM. Scripture is a record of that which is always taking place. Thus, the Spirit of God, which is original Life, is always moving upon the face of the waters, or heavenly deep, which is original Substance. And the One, which consists of these two, is always putting forth alike the Macrocosm of the universe and the Microcosm of the individual, and is always making man in the image of God, and placing him in a garden of innocence and perfection, the garden of his own unsophisticated nature. And man is always falling away from that image and quitting that garden for the wilderness of sin, being tempted by the serpent of sense, his own lower element. And from this condition and its consequences he is always being redeemed by the blood of the sacrifice always being made for him by the Christ Jesus, who is Son at once of God and of man, and is always being born of a pure virgin: – dying, rising, and ascending into heaven.
06. For these are, one and all, mystic terms denoting facts of perpetual recurrence in the history of the Soul, and necessary to salvation. It depends, however, upon the sense in which they are understood, whether they minister to salvation or to condemnation. The letter, it is declared, killeth; the letter and the spirit together have and confer life. For, while interpreted in one sense – the sense of the spirit – they are divine truths; interpreted in another sense – the sense of the letter – they are idolatrous falsehoods. And inasmuch as idolatry consists in the materialization of spiritual mysteries, and the substitution for the true things signified, of their material symbols; those interpretations are idolatrous which give to mystical doctrines physical applications. Now, all Scripture given by inspiration of God is mystical; and, in its esoteric sense, deals not with material things, but with spiritual realities, the mystic intention of the things named being alone implied, and by no means the things themselves. And this rule holds good alike of those two divisions of Scripture which are called respectively the Old and the New Testament.
07. In accordance, then, with the fourfold constitution of existence, the Parable of the Fall has a fourfold signification. But, inasmuch as that which is true of the race is true also of the individual, and that which is true of the individual is true also of the race, each portion of the fourfold signification has a twofold application, namely, to the race and to the individual. For each alike it is true on the planes spiritual, moral, intellectual, and physical. And it is constructed in terms derived from this last, because only thus it can find on any plane universal recognition; – since the physical is the universal mirror of the unmanifest, and is the only medium capable of reflecting at once all the three planes above itself. Thus represented in terms derived from the physical, it possesses a meaning for all, if only as an allegory of the Seasons, for – having an astronomical basis – such it also is.
08. So far, however, from being intended to represent the actual natural history, either of the planet or of man, or to be what now-a-days it is the fashion to call scientific, it is so contrived as to make that history appear to be the reverse of what it really is. For, read by the superficial sense, it represents man as created perfect from the first, by a power working from without; whereas, the truth is, that he is created by gradual development from rudimentary being, by a power – the Divine Spirit – working from within. For this is ever the method of the Divine procedure, and it is this that the parable really implies.
09. But only when it is understood what the mystic books mean by Man, does the true meaning appear. And as, until this is understood, it is vain to attempt to interpret those books, a definition of the term Man, as therein employed, must be our first concern.
A materialistic science, discerning only the outward appearance of things, and taking, therefore, no account of qualities, necessarily makes the Form all. Hence, for it, man is but a primate among the animals, and sufficiently defined under the terms Mammal, Biped, Bimanous, and the like. The notion that the form, to be valid, must be filled up, and that he who is man in form only, and is devoid of all the qualities, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, which are comprised in the term humanity, is not really man, is a notion which does not enter into the conception of the Materialist.
10. According to mystical doctrine, on the other hand, he who is human in form only, is but man rudimentary, and to be classed, in all essential respects, with those lower grades of humanity, the plants and animals. He has, like them, the potentiality only of humanity, and is no realized humanity. For, according to this doctrine, man’s supreme function is knowledge; SO that he is not man until he knows, or, at least, has an organon of knowledge, and is capable of knowing. Besides, the very term knowledge, has, in this relation, a special meaning. For the mystic applies it only to the cognition which is of Realities. That alone for him is knowledge, which has for its subject the nature of Being, his own nature, that is, and God’s; not phenomena merely, but Substance, and its method of operation. And, forasmuch as, in order to have this knowledge, a man must have attained his spiritual consciousness, it follow that, according to mystical definition, man is not man until he has attained the consciousness of his spiritual nature. To attain this, and this alone, is to attain true manhood. And, prior to the attainment of this, the individual is but as an infant, incompetent to fulfil, or even to comprehend, the functions of manhood.
11. The reason of this it, that man as dual being, not masculine only or feminine only, but both of these; not man only or woman only, but man and woman. And he is this in respect, not of his exterior and physical, but of his interior and spiritual nature. For, since humanity is dual, that which, being man, represents humanity, must be dual also. And this cannot be on the plane merely physical, whereon but one moiety only of the human dualism can be expressed in the same individual. On this plane it takes two persons, a man and a woman to express the whole humanity. And it is by means of its two sexes that the body constitutes a symbol of the humanity which, in being interior and permanent, is alone the humanity which is real.
12. For, – as already stated, – that whereby the man attains to manhood is woman. It is his power to recognize, appreciate and appropriate her, that stamps him, physically, man. She it is who, influencing him through the affections kindled by her in him, withdraws him from his outward and aimless course, in which left to himself, he would sooner or later be dissipated and lost; and who, gathering him round herself, as centre, redeems him and makes him into a system capable of self-perpetuation, supplementing and complementing meanwhile his masculine qualities as will, force, and intellect with her feminine qualities, as endurance, love, and intuition. Thus, by the addition of herself she makes him Man. It is not to the male moiety of the dualism constituted by them, that the term Man is properly applicable, any more than to the female moiety. Neither of them separately is Man; and it is by an unfortunate defect of language, that the masculine half of man is called a man. [ Much and serious misconception has arisen from the use of the same term to denote both the whole humanity and the masculine half of humanity. The confusion is identical with that which arises from the use of the word Earth to denote both the entire globe of earth and water, and the solid portion only of the globe. As in its former sense earth and water are equally Earth, the one being as earth masculine, and the other as earth feminine, so man and woman are equally Man, the one being man masculine, and the other man feminine. For her as well as for him, the exterior personality is what mystically is called the “man,” and the interior being is the “woman.”] He is man male, as she is man female. And only when wedded, that is welded, into one by a perfect marriage, does Man result, the two together thus blended making one humanity, – as earth and water make one Earth, – and by their power of self-perpetuation and multiplication demonstrating the completeness and perfection of their system.
13. Only because it is already so with Humanity on the inner plane, is it so on the outer. Whatever the sex of the person, physically, each individual is a dualism, consisting of exterior and interior, manifested personality and essential individuality, body and soul, which are to each other masculine and feminine, man and woman; he the without, and she the within. And all that the woman on the planes physical and social, is to the man, that she is also on the planes intellectual and spiritual. For, as Soul, and intuition of Spirit, she withdraws him, physically and mentally, from dissipation and perdition in the outer and material and by centralizing and substantializing him redeems and crowns him; – from a phantom converting him into an entity, from a mortal into an immortal, from a man into a god. Without her, it were better both for himself and for others that he should not be at all. On no plane of being is it good that the man-element be alone. For without Love, Force can but work evil until it be spent. And such is man and his doom until he finds and is found of her, the soul and woman within him. She is to him very “mother of the living,” and without her is no life. And she is this because she is, by her nature, that wherein the Divine Life, resides. For, as the soul is the life of the man, so is the spirit, which is God, the life of the soul. Thus is she mediator between man and God, to draw them together in herself. And only he is truly alive, is truly Man, and made after the Divine Image, in whom she thus operates. Redeeming him from chaos and making him a Cosmos, she is the centripetal to his centrifugal, the attractive to his separative, the constructive to his destructive, the synthesis to his analysis, the being to his seeming, the reality to his illusory. With her advent he begins to be; and thenceforth, through her, he can claim kindred with the I AM.
14. Man, then, in our parable, is represented as created perfect in that he is, in the mystical sense, male and female; that is, he has a soul – anima divina – superadded to his exterior personality, – anima bruta, – each of which is conscious of the separate existence of each. Their attainment of this consciousness is represented under the allegory of the creation of the woman; they first then begin to exist for each other. The time chosen for the attainment of this stage in their history is an important element in the process. For it is the same for all men. It is not while engaged in the active exercise of his masculine qualities that man first becomes conscious of his other and better, because interior and divine, self. His aggressive and destructive tendencies must have been exhausted, and the animal in him, his own exterior self, – in a word, the man part of him, – cast into deep slumber, before the woman in him can reveal herself, and make him conscious of something, or rather some one, within him, – himself, yet differing from himself, and higher and better than anything he has before had or been.
15. Once recognized, and her reality and superiority admitted, there is no height of goodness and knowledge to which she cannot raise him, if but only he follow her lead, and keep her free from defilement by Matter and Sense, the direct traffic with which appertains to him. In order properly to fulfil her function in regard to the man, and attract his regards upwards to her, she must herself aspire continually to the Divine Spirit within her, the central sun of herself, as she is that of the man. If, withdrawing her gaze from this, she fix it on things without and below, she falls, and in her fall takes him with her. Except through her, he cannot fall; for only through her does he at all rise, being, by his very nature the lowermost, and of himself incapable of rising. For he rests on the material plane, and is earth earthy.
16. It is not because Matter is in itself evil that the soul’s descent into it constitutes a fall and ensures disaster. It is because to the soul Matter is a forbidden thing. So that the act constitutes a disobedience. The prohibition, however, is not an arbitrary one, but is founded in the soul’s own nature, as also is the penalty attached to her transgression. Only by remaining spiritual substance can soul subsist as soul, having all the potentialities of soul. By quitting her own proper condition and descending into Matter, she takes upon herself the limitations of Matter. As between Spirit and Matter there is no boundary line, it is only by the maintenance of a will set exclusively spirit-wards that a soul can be held from submitting into the lower condition of Matter, finally to disintegrate and perish.
17. Such a fall, it will be well to repeat, does not involve the loss of any portion of the divine Substance. The animating spirit is withdrawn, and the constituent elements are separated. That only which perishes is the individuality constituted of these. And it perishes through its own persistent refusal of that “Gift of God” which is Eternal Life, the gift, namely, of portion of God’s Self or Spirit. Refusing this, man refuses life, as he is free to do. God rejects and annihilates no one. Man, by his rejection of God, annihilates his own individuality. And God cannot make man on any other terms. And this, for the reason that God is omnipotent. God would not be omnipotent were the individual indestructible. For then there would be something not God, possessing all the power of God. So far from this doctrine being an impugnment of the Divine love and goodness, it is essential to these qualities. God, we have said, rejects and destroys nothing. But there is in things evil an element of self-destruction, in the operation of which lies the safety of the universe. Were the fact otherwise, – could individuals subsist forever in a condition of opposition to the Divine will, – then would evil itself be eternized; and the universe, divided against itself, would fall. And, on the other hand, were man not free to annihilate himself, but salvation were compulsory, existence, instead of being a solemn reality, would be a farce wherein man and the soul would be but mechanical puppets altogether unworthy a divine creation. By the law of Heredity, God’s freedom involves man’s freedom: and this involves the freedom to renounce God, and with God, all being. Thus is the saying true, “For him who will not have God, God is not.”
18. It is through the soul, and the soul only, that man learns the Divine will, and learning it, saves himself. And the clearness with which the soul, on her part, discerns and transmits that will, depends upon her purity. In this word purity lies the essence of all religion. It is the burden of the whole Bible and of all bibles. Always is purity insisted on as the means to salvation; always impurity as the cause of condemnation. To this uniformity of doctrine the Parable of the Fall is no exception. With the soul pure, man dwells in Eden and “sees God.” With the soul impure, he is driven forth into the Wilderness. Such, on the plane spiritual, is the operation of that great law of gravitation which – as has been said – is the one law of existence. Salvation and condemnation are matters of spiritual gravitation. Man tends towards or away from God – the Tree of Life – according to the specific gravity of his soul. Of this the density depends upon the nature of the affections cultivated by him. And this, again, depends upon his own Will, which is free. Wherefore, in being the regulator of his own specific gravity, he is the arbiter of his own destiny; and according as he himself wills, he tends inwards and upwards to salvation, or outwards and downwards to extinction. Yielding to the Tempter Sense, and making Matter not his means merely but his end, his soul loses at length her spiritual nature. Nevertheless, while there is life in her there is hope for him. But only through a return to purity. For only when she has regained her “virginity” and become “immaculate,” can the Christ – her savior – be born of her.
19. THE full significance of the Parable under consideration, and the unity of the mystic Scriptures, become conspicuously apparent when we collate their various corresponding utterances, as by taking into account those also of the Book of Revelation. For it is there that the doctrine of the Woman receives its crowning recognition as the foundation of that true Christianity which those persistent suppressors of the women – the world’s materializing priesthoods – have so nearly extinguished. Let us, then, – though at the risk of some repetition – collate these two utterances, between the delivery of which so many thousands of years elapsed.
20. In creating Man, God creates one whole and perfect being, formed of two distinct parts, Adam the earthly, exterior man, and Eve the spiritual and interior man, his soul and “living mother.” These two are joined together by God in perfect union as one creature, and made, for the time, indispensable to each other. Adam, as the manifested personality or man, is not complete, that is, is not a man having Manhood, until Eve, the soul or woman, is added to him as helpmeet and guide. By the addition of her the two natures become one Humanity.
21. From this state of perfection Humanity soon falls. For Eve, the soul, withdrawing her steadfast gaze from the proper object of her regard, namely, her spirit, God, fastens them on things below, things earthly and material, which are to her the “forbidden fruit,” since her nature is spiritual. Beholding this fruit, and finding it pleasant to the eyes, she puts forth her hand and plucks of it, and gives of it to her husband, or Adam, to eat with her.
22. This is ever the history of sin. The exterior personality cannot of itself sin, for it is not a responsible being. Sin is of the soul; and it comes of the soul’s inclination to the things of sense. Taking of this fruit and enjoying it, she is said to eat it. And at her instigation “Adam” does likewise. And thenceforth, instead of the soul operating within him to purify and enlighten him, and lead him upwards towards the Spirit, together they become sensual and debased. And thus the sin, which has its commencement in the thought of the soul, afterwards becomes developed into action through the energy of the body or masculine part.
23. The sin consummated, the result is inevitable. Adam and his wife, the man and his soul, hear the voice of the Lord God speaking through their conscience. And sensible that they are no longer clad in the purity which alone enables man to face his Maker, they fly, as one caught naked, to hide from the Divine presence. Having rejected God, and no longer looking up to Him, as her Lord and King, the soul, Eve, falls under the sway of Adam and the body. He rules her, and her desire is unto him: and thenceforth Matter has dominion in them over the spirit. The garden of perfection is lost, and the world becomes for them a wilderness.
24. Meanwhile Adam, being interrogated by the Divine Voice, lays the blame upon Eve. For, but for the soul within him, the man had not known or been capable of committing sin; sin being possible only where there is a sense of right and wrong, which the soul alone possesses. Eve, interrogated in her turn, throws the blame on the serpent of Matter – sense, or the lower nature – through whose allurements she has fallen. It is no particular act that thus constitutes sin. And sin does not consist in fulfilling any of the functions of nature. Sin consists in acting without or against the spirit, and in not seeking the divine sanction in everything that is done. For sin is not of the physical but of the spiritual man. And by the spirit the act is redeemed or condemned. It is sheer materialism and idolatry to regard an act as itself sinful. For to do this, is to invest that which is merely physical with a spiritual attribute.
25. The natural result of the soul’s enslavement to Matter, is her liability to extinction. In her own nature the soul is immortal. That is, she does not partake the death which befalls the body, but survives to take on other bodies, and continues to do so until she has finally built up a spiritual man worthy and capable of enduring for ever. But the lower she sinks herself into Matter, the lower become her vitality and power of recovery. So that unless she turn and mend, she must ultimately perish; for she will lose altogether the Divine Spirit which is her necessary life.
26. Notwithstanding the soul’s fall, then, there is still hope of recovery for man. She shall yet, she is divinely assured, “crush the serpent’s head.” Not her seed only, but herself, – the soul, – when fully restored. For this is the true rendering, both in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the far older Bible of the Zodiac, – that indefeasible prophecy of the soul’s history. So that she who has been the cause of the fall, shall be the means also of redemption. “I will put enmity,” says God to the Serpent, “between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” For the fallen soul, retaining in some degree her spirituality, and recoiling from a merely material estimate of things, constitutes in the man a constant protest against his engrossment by his lower nature. It is, therefore, of the soul, restored to her pure estate and not of the body and its animal propensities, that the redeemed man must be born. The first Adam is of the earth, earthy, and liable to death. The second is “from heaven,” and triumphant over death. For “sin has no more dominion over him.” He, therefore, is the product of a soul purified from defilement by Matter, and released from subjection to the body. Such a soul is called virgin. And she has for spouse, not Matter – for that she has renounced – but the Divine Spirit, which is God. And the man born of this union is in the image of God, and is God made man; that is, he is Christ, and it is the Christ thus born in every man who redeems him and endows him which eternal life. For in him the man becomes transmuted from Matter into Spirit. He is the man himself, by regeneration become a son at once of man and God. Generation, degeneration, regeneration, – in these three terms is comprised the whole process of the soul’s history.
27. This triumphant consummation of the soul’s course is thus celebrated in the Apocalypse. “I beheld, “says the seer, “a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun having the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve starts.” This is the soul invested with the light of supreme knowledge attained through the experiences undergone in the long series of her past existences; standing on the moon as victor over materiality and firm in the faith of a full intuition, – states denoted respectively by the dark and light portions of the moon; and superior evermore to the changes of mortal destiny, the stars which represent this being the jewels of her crown, each of them denoting one of the “twelve labours” necessary to be endured by the soul on her path to her final perfectionment, and the spiritual gifts and graces acquired in the process.
28. Of the woman or soul thus exalted the offspring is a “man-child,” who is persecuted by the “serpent” of the lower world. It is a man-child for several reasons. First, because it represents the good deeds, and not intention or thoughts merely, but actual works and positive fruits of a soul overshadowed of the Divine Spirit, and fertilized by the Divine Love. In the origination of such deeds, the outer nature of man can have no part; they proceed wholly from the soul or woman. And they constitute a man-child because deeds imply an exercise of the masculine element of force. And they are necessary to salvation, not because they themselves can save, but because they indicate the redemption of the individuals who perform them. Faith and holy longing are feminine, and of themselves insufficient. They must be supplemented by works – which are masculine – in order to win acceptance in God’s sight. “For the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord.” And “the Lord” means and is the whole humanity of man and woman, as subsisting in the Divine Idea. Without the child, therefore, and this a man-child, the allegory would have been incomplete.
29. Now the good deeds thus engendered are the special aversion of the devil, or principle of evil, since, more than all else, they endanger his kingdom. Hence he is represented as seeking to annihilate both them and the soul which has given them birth. But though the soul must yet remain in the world to endure trial and persecution until the time come for God to end her probation and call her to her final joy with Himself, it is not so with her offspring; but this is forthwith caught up to God and His throne. For, the good deed once wrought cannot be destroyed; but God accepts and preserves it, and the devil has no power over it. Wherefore the latter, finding it useless to pursue the man-child, redoubles his efforts against the soul, and pours forth a flood of temptations, in order, if possible, to sweep her from God’s sight. She, however, though still in the “wilderness” of the flesh, is divinely sustained and delivered. The rest of her seed, the good deeds she continues to bring forth, are still the subject of persecution, until the dragon is finally overcome through what mystically is called the Blood of the Lamb, which is the pure doctrine and life whereby the elect are made sons of God and heirs of eternal life.
30. In the final exaltation which awaits her as the reward of her faithfulness, the woman or soul, is described as arrayed by God in the white linen of righteousness, the emblem of perfect purity, and given to be the bride of His “only son,” Christ Jesus. This is the man perfected through experience of suffering, and made regenerate through following his soul’s pure intuition of God. And is called the “only son,” not because he is a single individual, but because only he is so designated who comes up to this description. He always is a son of God, who is the product, not of a soul defiled by contact of Matter, but of a soul pure and vitalized of the Spirit. The character or “man” thus reborn is an “only begotten son of God,” because God begets none of any other kind. Of men such as this are the “saints” who “inherit the earth.” And under their rule, the “New Jerusalem,” or state of perfection, which “cometh down from heaven,” – the city which has God for its sun, and which has no temple because every man is himself a house of God, – replaces the lost garden of Eden.
31. Side by side with this epitome of the history of the pure and faithful soul, the allegory traces that of the perverse soul, under the type of an abandoned woman who sits upon the “seven hills” of the “seven deadly sins,” and allies herself in wickedness with the “kings of the earth.” That is, who yields wholly to the promptings of the lower nature, and accepts in all its grossness and cruelty a civilization merely materialistic, in which the body is made all, and the spirit and every divine principle are set at nought.
32. The completeness of the parable in Genesis appears yet more distinctly when we compare the curse pronounced on Adam with man’s actual condition in material respects. The sentence in its proper integrity runs thus: – “And unto Adam God said. Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife when beguiled of the devil, and hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat, instead of the nobler fruit of the tree which grows spontaneously, the grosser herb of the field which requires laborious cultivation. For, in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” This is, God said to the bodily nature of man: “Because thou hast yielded to the solicitations of thy mate, the soul, when turning from God, she inclined to Matter, and from being spiritual became sensual, thou must lead a hard and painful life, occupied by ignoble cares, and return by death to the lower elements to perish. Thy mate, meanwhile, though also liable to perish, shall still have long endurance, but henceforth – until finally purified and redeemed – shall bring forth her works, as the slave of the body, in great trouble and compunction for her fallen and degraded condition.”
33. ALL the mistakes made in Biblical interpretation come of referring statements of which the intention is spiritual and mystical, implying principles or states, to times, persons, or places. But, though these are never the essential element in any such statement, it is, nevertheless true that the Bible parables are either based upon certain special historic facts or are stated in terms derived from actual occurrences; just as a hieroglyphical record is expressed in symbols drawn from the animal world, and yet has no reference to that world; so that the spiritual significations implied are not without a correspondence of some sort on the natural plane.
34. Now, the special historical fact upon the lines of which the parable of the Fall is constructed, is one which – already implied in the account just given of the soul individual of man – is to be sought in the history of the soul collective of man, – in the history, that is, of the Church, an account of the Fall in relation to which will occupy the rest of this lecture. Sacerdotalism has always claimed for the Church the distinction of being the mystic woman through whose exaltation redemption occurs. But it has never recognized the Church as also the woman through whose fall comes the need of redemption. This reproach the priest has bestowed in a quarter in which originally there was no idea of bestowing it, and where it by no means belongs, namely, the feminine moiety of the human race. Yet, notwithstanding this assumption of sacerdotalism, it is to the fall of the Church from the standard attained in the Edenic period, that, in one of its aspects, the parable refers.
35. Even so, however, the interpretation is not to be restricted to any single or special instance. It is only as a type of all Churches that the first or best Church is employed, precisely as the soul of the first or best man may be employed as a type of all souls. And any less general application would deprive the parable of its due place as an eternal and universal verity, and reduce it to the level of the merely historical and local.
36. Nor, in likening all Churches one to another in respect of their fall, is it intended to assimilate them in respect of the height from which they have fallen. All that is meant is, that, whatever the level of spiritual perfection attained by any mystic community or Church in the full flush of its enthusiasm and purity, there is always a fall from such level, and the fall is due to one and the self-same cause, namely, that which is implied in the parable of Eden, and of which account has just been given in relation to the soul as individual. For of the soul’s fall, whether in one or in many, the cause is always the same, – the inclination to Matter.
37. The rise also is the same, both in cause and in method. And it is of this – the rise, that is, of the earliest known – perhaps the original – Church of Christ – that we have first to speak. This, as with man himself, was by evolution from rudimentary being. For the doctrine of creation by evolution is as already stated a true doctrine: and it is true as regards both man’s physical and man’s spiritual history. And it has been the doctrine of Mysticism from the beginning, the knowledge of it being reserved for initiates of a high grade. But between it and the travesty of it propounded by the science – wholly materialistic – of our day, is this essential difference. That science, – “falsely so called,” – in its ignorance of the nature of Substance, credits Matter with a power of evolution while denying to it the properties through which alone evolution can occur, namely, inhering life and consciousness. This science, moreover, contemplates as possible the development of that which, being infinite and eternal, is necessarily all-perfection perpetuity, namely, the substance of existence. For Mysticism, on the contrary, existence – or, more properly Being – and consciousness are terms synonymous and interchangeable; and all Substance, under whatever mode manifested, continues still to be, in some mode, consciousness. And inasmuch as Substance itself is incapable of development, in the sense of becoming more or better than it originally is, development is not of the qualities of substance, but of the manifestation of those qualities in individuated portions of it, a process which – consisting in the unfoldment of qualities already subsisting, but latent – may fairly be designated evolution.
38. The man spiritual, like the man physical, – the Church, like the world, then, represents a development from rudimentary being, occurring in virtue of the nature of the substance of which that being represents the projection; and the only difference between them is of degree or stage of development. And whereas the lowest or material plane is that wherein the process commences, the highest and last to be attained is the celestial. According to the degree in which he attains this, man attains the divine and is at one with God, having, in virtue of the knowledge thus derived, power “over things in heaven and things on earth,” – power, that is, over both regions, the spiritual and the material, of his own nature, and being altogether superior to the seductions of the illusory astral which lies between.
39. This celestial sphere was attained by the Edenic Church in a degree never reached by any other. Wherefore, since that alone is such a Church in which it is attained, no Church which has subsequently existed has been truly Edenic; but all have been Churches of the Fall. In Eden alone was man made in the “image of God,” being called in token thereof Adam and Eve. Then was the first man, according to the mystical definition of the term. Men and women, indeed, had subsisted on the earth for ages before him; but not man properly so called. They were – as the vast majority of men and women still are – man only in the making, or, it may be, in the marring. Man attains manhood and becomes Man, only when he reaches his spiritual majority. The attainment of the celestial did not, and does not, involve the abandonment of the terrestrial. The not uncommon notion that man in his primal perfection was a non-material or fluidic being, having no material body, is erroneous. Man, while yet in the body, attained “power over the body;” from fixed, making it volatile, and, though not immortal, capable of an indefinitely prolonged existence, its vitality meanwhile being such as not only to render it superior to disease and injury in itself, but as to enable it to communicate health to others. These results, however, – stupendous as they would now be deemed, did not exhaust the potentialities of our race. There is a superior stage of which account will be given when we come to treat particularly of the redemption, and which belongs to a period of development transcending that of the Adamic man. Nevertheless, though not realizing all the possibilities of humanity, the Edenic Church attained, in its representative members, as no other religious community has attained. And it was through that Church’s failure to continue at the same high level, that the fall whereof we are treating, occurred. By this fall, man receded from the celestial back towards his original level, the terrestrial, becoming once more subject to Matter, and losing the power over his body. There was no fall on the part of the individuals themselves who had risen. These quitted the earth and passed on to higher conditions of being. The Fall came through the failure of the succeeding generations, to attain the level reached by their predecessors. Failing to attain, like them, the celestial, man remained – where, with a few individual exceptions, he has ever since been – in the astral and material.
40. Let us attempt a description of that inmost sphere – the abode of the man celestial – which is at once the source of doctrine and the sphere wherein – as representative of the soul and intuition – the woman especially presides. It is a memory that we are about to recall, a memory recovered of an age not absolutely but relatively “golden,” to revisit which in thought, is to revert to a period in the world’s youth, when, as yet unpoisoned by all-pervading sin and disease, the conditions of life were so exquisite in their purity and harmony, as to make existence itself a positive, intense delight. And while in the act of recovering that memory, and enjoying again that remote past, the mind is able to look forward as well as backward, and to behold the whole subsequent period of the world’s course – that which is called the historical period – as but a season – brief compared with that which preceded it – of sickness and suffering which the race, by its own fault, has brought upon itself; but from which, it seems, rescue is not impossible, can humanity but furnish the love needful for the task of saving itself. For in those hyper-lucid moments it is made to appear as a self-evident truth, that just as it has been possible for us in the past to live healthily and happily, it will be possible for us to do so in the future. For Utopia is Utopia only for those who insist that it shall for ever be Utopia and unrealized. There is no force in the universe save will-force; and all that life needs for life, is possible to will. And, continuing to operate over an indefinite period, even a finite will becomes infinite. Wherefore man has but to will long enough, to make the world as he would have it. But to will is not merely to wish, but to work toward the desired end. It is for the woman in us to wish, and therein to prompt. She is the inspirer. But the man in us must work. He is the executor. Apart, powerless; together, they can move the world. He and She, Will and Love, Spirit and Substance, operating in the celestial, created the world; and assuredly they can redeem it.
41. That which we propose to describe, – so far as the attempt to reconstruct it has been successful, – is the innermost sphere, not, indeed, of the mystic community of Eden itself, but of one of those ancient successors of and approximations to it, which, as Colleges of the Sacred Mysteries, were the true heirs of Eden and which, so recently even as by Plato, were described as places wherein were repaired the effects of the Fall, and to quit which for the outer world was to quit once more the garden for the wilderness. Once accessible to all, so completely now has the true character of these institutions fallen from remembrance, that even scholars write them down as instruments of imposture and oppression, and devoid of special knowledge or faculty. Wherefore to recover them is to re-create them; – no small task, seeing that the way to them, even in thought, is barred and banned by all the priesthoods, so that only by facing and piercing the formidable phalanx of sacerdotalism itself, can the forbidden ground of those lost paradises be even approached.
42. For – as recorded in classic legend – the golden fruit of a perfect doctrine and life, produced on the union of Zeus and Hera, – the man and woman of the substantial humanity, – is guarded not only by the dragon of man’s own lower nature, but also by the “daughters of the sunset,” – the world’s materialized sacerdotalisms. And these, together with dragon and sword of flame, keep watch and ward, lest any, re-entering the closed garden, may find, and pluck, and eat, and know, and, knowing, have life in himself, needing no assistance of priest. And so fierce and vigilant is the watch kept, that only a Heracles – or man already half divine – can succeed in piercing or evading the formidable phalanx.
43. Let us suppose this done, and priestly lines safely passed and left behind. Traversing the broad belt which divides these lines from the wished-for centre, the seeker descries at length a Mount, towards the summit of which the sky appears to dip, so that by the meeting of the two a junction is formed between the earth and heaven. Thus does it appear to the interior vision, with which, to be a successful follower of such quest, the seeker must be endowed. That which he finds on reaching the Mount, is a community of beings, of both sexes, to the ordinary eyes human, but to the interior divine also. And the life they lead – though outwardly quiet, grave, uneventful, and, as some would deem it, even ascetic – in reality throbs with intensest vitality, abounds in enterprise the most lofty, and brims with keenest satisfaction. For, of this community the members are, of all mankind, the profoundest of intelligence, widest of culture, ripest of experience, tenderest of heart, purest of soul, maturest of spirit. They are persons who – using life without abusing it, and having no perverse will to the outer – have learnt all that the body has to teach, and who, rising above earth by the steadfast subordination of their lower, and exaltation of their higher nature, have at length – to use their own most ancient and significant phrase – crucified in themselves the flesh, and thereby made of their bodies instruments, instead of masters, for their souls, and means of expression, instead of sources of limitation, for their spirits. Thus rising above the earth, they have drawn down heaven to meet them; and, like the resolving rain-cloud of tropic seas, formed a pillar of communication between the spheres upper and nether.
44. An Order, or School, to these compose, whereof the initiates, while honoring the man as the heir of all things, – if only he be lawfully begotten and be a true child of the Spirit, – specially champion the woman, by exalting her within themselves to share supremacy with the man, making themselves at once man and woman. For together with the intellect, they cherish also the intuition, together with the head, the heart, and combining in all things love with will, make it their one object to enable the substance of their humanity to attain in them the full manifestation of its qualities. Practicers as well as preachers of the doctrine of creation by development, and – withheld by no prepossession or prejudice – fearless followers of thought to its extremest spheres in every direction, they are the earth’s sole genuine evolutionists and free-thinkers; and to them alone, and those who, affiliated to them, know and follow their method, it is given, while in the body, to live the life of the Spirit; to reach their intellectual manhood; to complete the system of their thought, and find certitude of truth even the highest; to attain the supreme common sense of all the spheres and modes of being in which substance is wont to be manifested; and, in a word, to be taught of the informing Spirit Itself of the universal humanity, all the mysteries of that Kingdom which, being within, is the counterpart of and sole key to that which is without.
45. Of all who attain eminence in this School – and this have been, and haply shall yet again be, many – the motive is one, and the history one. For the motive is the love of perfection, for the sake, not of self only, but of perfection. And this is a goal which, pursued as these pursue it, continues ever to rise, and draws the pursuer after it. And the history is that of the soul. For, as the soul is one, so also is her history one.
46. From this Order, wherever established, have proceeded, as from a central sun, all the light and heat of knowledge and goodness which, distributed through faithful priesthoods, have ministered towards the world’s redemption from utter ignorance and barbarism to such degree of humanity as it has reached. From the germs of truth and beauty, in doctrine and conduct, idea and practice, thus originated, and transferred to various soils, has sprung all that the world has of true philosophy, morality, art, science, civilization, religion. And in so far as the products have been lacking in excellence, the fault has been due, not to the original seed, but to the soil and to the husbandmen.
47. How stubborn that soil, and how inefficient or faithless those husbandmen, may be inferred from the fact that rarely, since history began, has the Order found in the smallest degree the recognition and gratitude its due. But, on the contrary, whenever, in a period of degradation so extreme that humanity itself seemed in its death-throe, and instead of men the earth bore monsters, – one of it members had quitted his loved seclusion and, descending from his own celestial “Mount” into the world below, has sought by conduct and precept to afford an example of what humanity has in it to be, – he has by the world he sought to rescue been subjected to persecution and affront, and in the official guardians of the doctrine he represented and would have regenerated, has found his bitterest foes.
48. Long vanished from human view, the Order has been replaced by semblances, mechanical merely and void of vitality; and for lack both of the knowledge and of the materials, incompetent to build up a single specimen of humanity after its perfected pattern. Nevertheless the true order still survives, though dwindled in numbers and no longer having organization or appliance due; but as “a people scattered and peeled,” lost tribes of a spiritual Israel, whose roll-call is no more on earth. Once known and supremely honored by the titles of Magi, Wise men, Kings of the East, and Sons of God, its initiates are now misknown and supremely contemned under the designation of Mystics. Yet, notwithstanding the uncongenial climate and evil entreaty of a civilization become wholly materialistic, these still pursue, – unknown for the most part even to each other, – their ancient vocation; and still is this, as of old, the Gnosis, or Divine Science. For its subject is the Substance of the universal Humanity, and its object is the attainment of personal perfection.
49. Of all earthly Orders, this, by reason of its antiquity, its universality, its objects, and its achievements, is incomparably the most notable, seeing that from it have proceeded all the world’s true sages, saints, seers, prophets, redeemers, and Christs; and through it all divine revelation. And its doctrine is that one true doctrine of existence, and therein of religion, which, – always in the world, – is now for the first time in its history published to the world in language comprehensible by the world; – having, it is believed, been recovered in the way it was originally received.
50. IT remains to speak of the cause and manner of the fall from a level so lofty, from a rule so beneficent. The truth is, that the world fell only because the Church fell. And the Church, or collective soul of Humanity, fell, as does the individual soul, by looking less and less upward to God, and more and more downward to Matter. Cataclysmal as the result may appear when viewed in the totality of its effects and from a distance of time, the declension was very gradual, and extended over many generations. It may thus be compared to a diminution of agricultural produce, such as occurs through the gradual impoverishment of the soil. The spiritual possibilities of the race had, as it were, exhausted themselves. Or it may be likened to a recession of the tides of the sea, and to the seasons of the year. For, until finally united to God by what, mystically, is called the Divine Marriage, man is subject to many fluctuations and alternations in respect of his spiritual condition. And instead of the wave of his spiritual life remaining always at high water, it falls back to rise in another tide, – a tide, it may be, as in this case, to culminate only after another creative “week” of man’s spiritual formation, of which every “day” should be a “thousand years.” In the sense and manner ordinarily supposed, mankind never fell. Its fall was gradual as its rise. Under the ripening influence of a vast wave of spiritual light and heat, – to the production of which man himself had contributed his necessary quota, by voluntary co-operation with the Divine Spirit working within him, – he attained the first great summer of his perfection, in the time and manner indicated in the parable of Eden and the legends of the Golden Age. Upon the subsidence of this wave, – a subsidence due to himself, – he fell from this summer back into the spiritual autumn and winter in which he has remained buried more or less deeply ever since. And now he is at the lowest depth compatible with any retention at all of existence. Another step in the same direction means for Humanity, – in the mystical and true sense, and that is in every high sense, – total extinction.
51. As with the Individual, so with the Race. The path of ascent from rudimentary being, is also the path of descent when, through a perverse will to the outer, descent occurs. Man rose into man, and attained the full image of God, through the culture of the woman within him. Representing his soul and intuition of God, she was his initiator into the knowledge of Divine things. And led by the clear perceptions which are her special gift when duly tended and honored, he learnt to shun idolatry, – which is the preference for the Form over the Substance, – and bloodshed (whether for soul or body), and with these whatever might serve to obscure or distort his conceptions of the Divine Character. Thus exalting the woman on the spiritual and intellectual planes of her manifestation in humanity, he exalted her also on the planes social and political; and instead of seeing in her, – as do the fallen philosophies and sacerdotalisms of all subsequent ages, – a thing maimed and defective, and, – however fair, – a mistake and a blunder of Nature, to be classed with criminals, idiots, and children, and yet to be held responsible for all the evils of existence, – he regarded her as a later and higher development upon himself, and as, of the two, the nearer to God. And richly did she repay him for the preference, so long as it was accorded to her. For through her he attained Paradise. But as, when pure and uncorrupted, the soul is man’s initiator into things divine; so when, turning towards the things of sense, the soul loses her purity, she becomes his initiator into things evil, and gives him of the fruit of forbidden knowledge, making him a “sinner,” which, but for the soul, he could not be. For “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” and the law is given to the soul. The Fall, therefore, when at length it came, came not through any individual person, woman or man, but through the fault of man, and was due to the fall of the woman in herself. Following her intuition of God, he had ascended from the material, through the astral to the celestial, and became made in the “image of God.” Following her in her fall into Matter, he descended by the same way to where he now is, his path being one continuous track of agony, tears, and blood, due solely to the suppression within himself of the “woman.”
52. At once the cause and consequence of the Fall, the manifestation of this suppression is always threefold. The loss of the intuition means idolatry, and idolatry means murder. Each of these is a condition of the other. Losing his intuition of Spirit, man becomes Materialist, and instead of the spiritual idea, which alone is real, worships the visible symbol. That is, he ignores the soul and exalts the body of things. Exalting the body, he sacrifices all to the body, and sheds, for its gratification, innocent blood. Thus he is murderer as well as idolator. The woman in him falling, he becomes “Cain,” a cultivator of “the fruits of the ground” only, or lower nature, whence proceeds all evil. In other words, for a doctrine of love he substitutes a doctrine of selfishness. For this is the sin of which bloodshed is the symbol and outcome.
53. Since these are the three steps of his descent, to reverse his practice in respect of them – in the Spirit as well as in the Letter – will be to reverse the Fall, and to remount once more to the celestial. Already has the movement begun in each regard. The position of woman on the lower planes is being rapidly revolutionized, and soon will be so also on the higher. Little, however, do most of those who are working to that end know what it means, and little will the end coincide with their anticipations. For many who in our day are pretending to “exalt the woman” are doing so by means subversive of her. And many even of the women who are seeking to exalt themselves, are doing so by the repression, rather than by the promotion, of their womanhood; and this, by reason, not of their doing man’s work but of their doing it in man’s evil fashion, leaving out the woman. Nevertheless, the woman shall be exalted. God will carry her to His throne, and “will make the wrath of man to praise Him.” The outcry, surely gathering volume and strength, against the slaughter and torture of our animal brethren, whether for use or for pleasure, is another token of entrance upon the upward path. It is not at the hands of those who kill or eat them that the animals will be permitted to accept their salvation from the torturer. They who would redeem others must first make sacrifice in themselves. When this truth is understood, the redemption of the animals will be at hand. And in respect of idolatry the prospect is even yet brighter. For the “Gospel of Interpretation” has come, and the “letter which killeth” is henceforth shorn of its strength.
54. Do we speak of signs? What sign more astounding could have been imagined than the modern phenomenon known as “Spiritualism”? Herein man has already taken one whole step upward towards the celestial. For in “Spiritualism” he has quitted the exclusively material, and has actually entered the astral. Short of the celestial now he cannot stop. The very profundity of his dissatisfaction with his experiences of the astral, will compel him onwards. To this every “Spiritualist” will testify. Backward man dare not turn, to the merely material. For he has beheld in vivisection the abyss which confronts him there, and in healthy horror has recoiled from the bottomless pit therein disclosed, of the possibilities of his own lower nature. In vivisection the human is abandoned for the infernal.
55. The cry, then, is onward, upward, inward to the celestial. And happy will they be who first are uplifted thither, for they will surely draw all men up after them. Reversing the Fall and the Curse of Eve, they will lead Man to a new Golden Age, a new Sabbath of Perfection, and the glories of the New Jerusalem, that true City of Hygieia, which cometh down from the heaven of his own pure Ideal. Thus will the divine Virgin Astræa – forced to quit earth when the Golden Age was no more – fulfil the promise of her return, bringing her progeny of divine sons, to redeem the world. [ “Jam re it et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna, Jam nova progenies cœlo dimittitur alto.” Virgil, Eclog. IV. ] Thus, too, will Intuition and Intellect, as a new Esther and Mordecai, once more gain favour with the world, and, redeeming from oppression the true Israel, give the kingdom to the righteous. Moreover in these faculties, thus restored, will the “two” Apocalyptic “Witnesses” rise, as from the dead, in “the streets of the great City,” and “ascending into heaven,” reign supreme. And thus also will the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar find its fulfillment, and the Golden Image its destruction. For the Image is the symbol of a civilization whose head – or intellect – is golden, but whose body is of silver mixed with brass, and whose legs and feet are iron and clay; – that is, which rests on Force and Matter. And the Stone, hewn without hand, which destroys it, is the Understanding, manifested in a new Word or Gospel of Interpretation, which, smiting the monster miscalled Civilization, shall “scatter in pieces the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold, and make them as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor.” But the “Stone” by which the Image is destroyed shall “become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth.” Becoming the “head corner stone,” by it the Great Pyramid of the standard Humanity shall be completed.
THE PERFECT WAY PART 2
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