Feb 132015
 

fountain_tree_of_lifeAt the very end of the New Testament John described the holy of holies that he saw in his vision. There was the throne of God and the Lamb, there was the river of the water of life, and there was the tree of life. The servants of God and the Lamb saw his face and had his name on their foreheads. They stood in a place of perpetual heavenly light, needing neither lamp no sun, and the reigned fore ever (Rev.22.1-5). For the first Christians, this was their vision of heaven.

They were standing in the temple, but not the temple rebuilt by Herod and completed only a few years earlier. They were standing in the temple as it should have been, as it had once been and as they hoped it soon would be, because in their vision they  were standing in the true temple. The temple they knew – or had known, since there is no way of dating this vision – had  neither the heavenly throne nor the tree of life in the holy of holies. Josephus says that at the end of the second temple period, the holy of holies was empty.

In another part of the vision of the temple, John saw the ark (Rev.11.19) which had been lost for centuries. Later tradition remembered it had disappeared in the time of King Josiah, during the temple purges of 623 BCE. It would be restored in the time of the Messiah, along with the other things that had been in the first temple but not in the second: the fire, the menorah, the Spirit and the cherubim. Since the first temple furnishings symbolised the temple teachings, this was saying that the faith of the second temple was very different from the faith of the original temple.

Margaret Barker, The Mother of the Lord

Oct 162010
 

There is in man – notably in his soul, and not in his body – a seed of evil of his own, without which temptation coming from outside would not exert any action on him. Because temptation would be impotent if it did not find a terrain already prepared in the human soul.

The unfortunate misunderstanding locating innate human evil in the body instead of in the soul is due to a tendency towards a materialistic interpretation of our Biblical story of paradise and the Fall. It is the body which, rightly. has more reason to be ashamed of the soul inhabiting it, than the latter of the body.

For the body is a miracle of wisdom, harmony and stability, which does not merit scorn but rather the admiration of the soul. For example, can the soul boast of moral principles as stable as the body’s skeleton? Is it as indefatigable and as faithful in its sentiments as, for example, the heart, which beats day and night? Does it possess a wisdom comparable to that of the body, which knows how to harmonise such opposing things as water and fire, air and solid matter?

Whilst the soul is torn by opposing desires and feelings, this ‘contemptible’ body knows how to unite opposing elements and make them collaborate: the air that it breathes, the solid matter of food, the water that it drinks, and the fire (warmth) that it produces unceasingly within it….and if this does not suffice to change scorn into respect, admiration and gratitude, the one can recall, if on is a Christian, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, inhabited this flesh and that he honoured it to the point of uniting himself with it in the Incarnation.

Similarly, if one is a Buddhist or Brahmanist, one should not forget that Buddha and Krishna, also, inhabited this flesh and that it served them well in the accomplishing of their respective missions. Negative ascetisism, directed against the body and not for celestial things, is the practical consequence of the materialistic interpretation of paradise and the Fall. However, the fact alone that a Cherubim “was placed at the east of the garden of Eden, with a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life”  (Genesis iii, 24), suffices to drive away any shadow of a doubt: here it is a matter of a plane higher than the terrestrial plane, and it was therefore souls who committed the original sin – and the body had nothing to do with it.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XVI, The Tower of Destruction

Jul 102010
 

it is said that Angels are in perpetual contemplation of God. They are, if one understands by contemplation the state of being in  permanent contact with the Holy Trinity and of being blinded by its light. It is the ‘dark contemplation’ of which St John of the Cross spoke which is that of the Angels. They do not see God; they are united to him substantially.

With respect to guardian Angels, neither do they see one another, nor do they see entities of the other hierarchies – Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. For the presence of the transcendental divine light in them envelops in darkness their perception of the intermediary spheres between God and mankind.

It is the latter sphere that they see, or rather, the ‘spheres’ of their proteges. It is here that they make use of this clairvoyance, which the human being – who has lost it – has need of for the protection it affords. It is here also that the Angels display the geniality of synthetic and profound understanding – without parallel – which has merited them, on the part of human beings, with the attribute of ‘omniscience’.

They are not omniscient, but the facility with which they orientate themselves in human things and grasp at them – at contact with which their ‘dark’ divine wisdom becomes resplendent – has so impressed human beings who have had the experience of consciously meeting with them that they have been led to consider them as omniscient. It is to this impression that has been gained of Angels that the word ‘genius’ owes its original meaning, namely that of superhuman intelligence.

But – and this is the tragic side of Angelic existence – this geniality shows up only when the human being has need of it, when he makes room for the flashing forth of its illumination. The Angel depends on man in his creative activity. If the human being does not ask for it, if he turns away from him, the Angel has no motive for creative activity.

He can then fall into a state of consciousness where all his creative geniality remains in potential and does not manifest. It is a state of vegetation or ‘twilight existence’, comparable to sleep from the human point of view. An Angel who has nothing to exist for is a tragedy in the spiritual world.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XIV, Temperance