Feb 192011

In these twelve men who came together to perform a special mission, the twelve different streams in the spiritual development of mankind were represented. The fact that all possible religions and all possible philosophies belong to the twelve basic types is in itself a mystery.

Buddhism, Brahmanism, Vedanta philosophy, materialism, or whatever it may be – all of them can be traced to the twelve basic types; it is just a matter of being quite exact. And so all the different streams of man’s spiritual life – the religions, the philosophies and world conceptions that are spread over the earth – were united in that council of the twelve.

After the period of darkness had passed and spiritual achievement was possible again, a thirteenth came in remarkable circumstances to the twelve. I am telling you now of one of those events which takes place secretly in the evolution of mankind once and once only. They cannot occur a second time and are mentioned not as an indication that efforts should be made to repeat them but for quite other reasons.

When the darkness had lifted and it was possible to develop clairvoyant vision again, the coming of the thirteenth was announced in a mysterious way to the twelve wise men. They knew that the time had come when a child with significant and remarkable incarnations behind him was to be born. Above all they knew that one of his incarnations had been at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha.

It was known, therefore, that one who had been a contemporary of the events in Palestine was returning. And the birth of the child in these unusual circumstances during the thirteenth century could not have been said to be that of a person of renown.

Rudolf Steiner, Intimate Workings of Karma

Feb 032011

What is essential in order that spiritual truth is not forgotten, and that it lives? Hope, true creativity and tradition are the essential factors. The corroborating testimony of the three ever-present witnesses – spirit, blood and water – is necessary.

True testimony through the spirit, through blood, and through water will never fall into forgetfulness. One can kill spiritual truth, but it will resurrect.

Now, the unity of hope, creativity and tradition is the agent of growth. It is the concerted action of spirit, blood and water. It is therefore indestructible; its action is irreversible; and its movement is irresistible. And it is the agent of growth which is, in the last analysis, the subject of the Emerald Table of Hermes Trismegistus.

And all things were made by meditation of the One, so all things arose from this one thing by a single act of adaptation,” says the Emerald Tablet (Tabula Smaragdina, 3). Which amounts to saying: as the One is the creator of the essence of all things, thus there is a unique agent which adapts the existence of all things to their essence – the principle of adaptation of that which is born to its created prototype.

This is the agent of growth or the principle of evolution. It is engendered by the spontaneous light of hope (the sun) reflected in the movement of the lower waters (the moon), which produces the general impulse or ‘push’ (the wind), which bears primordial hope towards its realisation in the material domain (the earth), which donates it with its constructive elements (ie, nourishes or ‘nurses’ it). Thus, the Emerald Table continues:

The father thereof is the sun, the mother the moon; the wind carried it in its womb; the earth is the nurse thereof. (Tabula Smaragdina, 4)

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XVII, The Star

Jan 152011

Manichaeism will endeavour, first and foremost, to preserve purity in outer life; for its aim is to produce human beings who will provide an adequate vessel in the future.That is why such great stress was laid on absolute purity of mind and of life.

The Cathars were a sect which rose like a meteor in the twelfth century. They called themselves Cathars because ‘cathar’ means ‘pure one’. They strove for purity in their way of life and in their moral attitude. They had to seek catharsis (purification) both inwardly and outwardly in order to form a community that would provide a pure vessel. That is what Manicheaism was striving for.

It was less a question of Manichaeism of the cultivation of inner life – for life will flow onwards through other channels – but rather the cultivation of the external form of life.


The consciousness will have been established in the successors to the ‘Sons of the Widow’ that evil must be included again in evolution and be overcome, not by strife but only through charitableness. It is the task of the Manichaean spiritual stream to forcefully prepare for this. This spiritual stream will not die out; it will make its appearance in many forms. It appears in forms which many can call to mind but which need not be mentioned today.

If it were to function merely in the cultivation of an inner mood of soul, this current would not achieve what it should do. It must express itself in the founding of communities which, above all, will look upon  peace, love and passive resistance to evil as their standard of behaviour and will seek to spread this view. For they must create a receptacle, a form, for the life which will continue to exist even without  their presence.

Rudolf Steiner, The Temple Legend, Manichaeism

Jan 072011

The pendulum has swung back again—or at any rate is about to start its swing. In speaking of ‘the unity of the world and all things in it’, we must, however, avoid the error of oriental monism which denies the dual existence of Creator and created. According to this view the universe and all the inner worlds therein have been self-created, or at best emanated from a central source.

This means that God is in everything, in the holiest of holies and in the dust on the sandals of the worshipper at the temple gate. As a child of an acquaintance put it with devastating childlike logic. ‘When I stamp on the ground am I stamping on God?’ To this the monist would rush to reply ‘Yes’, but the theist would say ‘No’. The monist would go on to say that as God is also in the child’s foot, sock and shoe, God was stamping on God. The theist would go on to say that although God is not in everything He is omniscient as far as the creation is concerned and is therefore aware of the child stamping and in empathy with both the child and the ground.

All this is not academic, theological or philosophical hair splitting, for the consequences of believing one thing or the other are profound. If we are going to build a philosophical or theological edifice we need to be very certain of the rock upon which it is founded. To believe that all things unfurl of their own accord from nothing is to assume that man is capable of expanding his consciousness until he comes eventually as God, comprehending all — and that animals  expand their consciousness to become humans, plants likewise to become animals, even minerals to become plants.

This is a theory that is, in fact, held by many students of the occult, based on the monist philosophical assumptions of the East It has its superficial attraction as a logical sounding kind of arrangement. It takes in the ideas of human progress and general life evolution that were newly formulated and current in the nineteenth century, and it is hardly surprising that these ideas in occult form were first promulgated in the West in the late nineteenth century by the efforts of the newly formed Theosophical Society.

What Madame Blavatsky, its founder, did really was to take nineteenth-century materialist evolutionary theory as formulated by Darwin and stand it on its head as a spiritual evolutionary theory, in much the same way that
Marx had inverted the spiritual dialectic of Hegel to form the dialectical materialism of Marxism. Both Marxism and Theosophy have a great spurious appeal as seeming  to answer many questions by this agile topsy-turveydom. Unfortunately both are wrong — though this does not alter the fact that Marxism as a political philosophy came to dominate a third of the world and Theosophical monism  dominates  much  of modern occult thought.

It is not our task to try to judge why certain particular nineteenth-century philosophical ideas should retain such a hold into modern times, though in the case of oriental monism and occultism its influence spread because a whole generation of occult students sat at the feet of Madame Blavatsky and imbibed her principles  even if they later rejected some of the superstructure of her philosophy. They later taught others and so the basic assumptions spread — with various modifications to and arguments about the superstructure, but with the entire theological foundations  taken for granted and accepted unchallenged.

The whole Western occult tradition, which had followed an underground course for centuries, burst out into the open, only to be thoroughly mixed, swamped and diluted with Eastern ideas deriving from Hinduism and Buddhism. The true occult heritage of the West stems, however, along with the religion of the West, from Christian and Judaic tradition  — or rather from revealed as opposed to natural religion.

Gareth Knight, Experience of the Inner Worlds, The Sphere of Light

Jun 112010

Magic is crowned, since her task is the sublimation of Nature, as indicated by the shield or coat-of-arms with the eagle in flight, that the Empress holds instead of the book of the High Priestess.

Josephin Peladan defined magic as “the art of the sublimation of man”, no other formula is superior to his. This is exactly the emblem – or aim – of magic, if one understands by “sublimation of man” that of human nature. Peladan had a very profound understanding of the emblem of magic: the shield with the eagle in flight. All his works bear witness to this. Together they represent a magnificent flight; they aim, as a whole and each taken individually, at  the ideal of the sublimation of human nature.

It is because Peladan bore the emblem of magic: the flying eagle, that this is so.

Isn’t it to have the emblem of magic before one’s eyes that one is invited “to throw the eagles of one’s desires to the wind”, because happiness “raised to the level of an ideal, freed from the negative aspects of oneself and of things….is the sole triumph of this world?” It is the same emblem – the shield with the eagle – that Papus had in mind, in actual fact, when he defined magic as:

The application of the strengthened human will to accelerate the evolution of the living forces of nature.

He preceded this definition with another:

Magic is the science of love.

For it is precisely “the accelerated evolution of the living forces of Nature” that the eagle of the shield of the Empress represents; “the science of LOVE” is the sceptre of the Empress, which represents the means by which the aim of magic is attained.

Unknown author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter III, The Empress