Authentic Knowledge

It is not ‘legitimate initiation’ which constitutes the chain – or rather the flow – of the tradition – but rather the niveau and authenticity of spiritual experience and the depth of thought that it comprises. Therefore it is initiation per se which consitutes the Hermetic tradition across the ages, and not the transmission of initiation by way of rituals and formulae. If the tradition depended only on the latter it would already long ago have been either extinguished or certainly lost in the jungle of quarrels over rights and legitimacy. Now, it is he who knows from first-hand experience who represents the tradition, and it is his authentic knowledge which is his legitimacy.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter XV, The Devil

love one another

It goes without saying that nobody initiates anyone else, if we understand by ‘initiation’ the Mystery of the Second Birth or the Great Sacrament. This Initiation is operative from above and has the value and the duration of eternity. The Initiator is above, and here below one meets only the fellow pupils; and they recognise each other by the fact that they “love one another” (John xiii, 34-45)

There are no longer any more ‘masters’ because there is only one sole Master, who is the Initiator above. To be sure, there are always masters who teach their doctrines and also initiates who communicate some of the secrets which they possess to others who thus become in turn their ‘initiates’, but this has nothing to do with the Mystery of the Great Initiation.

For this reason Christian Hermeticism, in so far as it is a human concern, initiates no one. Amongst Christian Hermeticists nobody assumes for himself the title and the function of ‘initiator’ or ‘master’. For all are fellow pupils and each is master of each in some respect – just as each is a pupil of each other in some other respect.

Meditations on the Tarot, Letter I, The Magician

The Name Initiation

The biblical story of Jacob is an allegory of human evolution on our planet. And his experience at Peniel (Face of God) is linked symbolically with the transformation of the basic octahedron into the Holy Temple octahedron. All human beings eventually undergo this high initiation, called the ShM Initiation (or ‘Name’ Initiation).


Jacob’s name-change to Israel (YShRAL) symbolises the elevation of human consciousness from the sefirah Tifaret (Jacob) to the sphere of Da’at (Israel). At that time Da’at becomes integrated into human consciousness and the ‘covenant of the Unique One’ (BRYTh YChYD) is activated.

During the evolution of the octahedron the ShM Pillar becomes established as its central axis. This occurs as Jacob’s guardian angel (Tifaret, Kaf) releases his hold on the Shin and Maym pathways and allows them to fully merge together. Jacob as Israel (Da’at) then assumes control of the ShM Pillar.

The ShM Pillar empowers Israel to become consciously involved in the divine Work of Yetzirah (Formation). In other words, after reconciling the paths of Shin and Maym within his own microcosmic self, Jacob as Israel is able to consciously assist the Creator in the macrocosmic merging of Binah (Shin, divine fire) with Hockmah (Maym, divine Water). In doing so, Israel takes his first step on the new path of cosmic evolution.

Patrick Mulcahy, Sefer Yetzirah Magic

Of Beauty

“Of Beauty….I repeat again thahermest we saw her there shining in company with the celestial forms; and coming to earth we find her here too, shining in clearness through the clearest aperture of sense. For sight is the most piercing of our bodily senses: though not by that is wisdom seen; her loveliness would have been transporting if there had been a visible image of her, and the other ideas, if they had visible counterparts, would be equally lovely. But this is the privilege of Beauty, that being the loveliest she is also the most palpable to sight. Now he who is not newly initiated, or who has been corrupted, does not easily rise out of this world to the sight of true beauty in the other. . . . But he whose initiation is recent, and who has been the spectator of many glories in the other world, is amazed when he sees anyone having a godlike face or form, which is the expression of Divine Beauty; and at first a shudder runs through him, and again the old awe steals over him. . . .”


World of the second humanity

TammuzNot only are there seven planets, but these must have had their representations on Earth in the seven holy ‘fortresses’ of the seven ‘white’ Kings of Atlantis. In the Secret of the West, Merezhkovsky says:

‘Atlantis perished, but its gods were saved. There are seven of them: The Cretan Adonis-Adonai, the Egyptian Osiris, the Babylonian Tammuz, the Hittite Attis, the Iranian Mithra, the Hellenic Dionysus, and the ancient Mexican Quetzalcoatl. They all show one face, like brother-twins. The swastika is on their brow: it is possible to say that these are the ‘baptised’ gods.

‘There are seven of them like the seven colours of the post-Deluge rainbow: “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token of a covenant between me and the Earth.”

‘They are more than twins, they are each others’ doubles, so that if you know one you know them all; they mix in one another, like the colours of the rainbow, behind which is one sun.’

So, if the poem, the Spoils of Annwn refers also to post-diluvian history (as an experience of initiation) it is still correct to say that ‘only seven’ return; because, in Atlantis, only the seven god-accepted sanctuaries and their Mystery-wisdom survived, and those under the ‘Lords of the Dark Face’, the black magical Kings, perished. The offspring of these seven Mystery schools, devoted to planetary wisdom, are to be found – historically – scattered all over the world of the ‘second humanity’.

Eleanor C Merry, The Flaming Door

Ancestral Memory

sunCertain old initiations were often described as a search for the ancestors; and between the seeker and his ancestors were the waters of the womb out of which he had been born.

Initiation awakened the ancestral memory (latent in all people) by teaching the neophyte to extend his ordinary memory beyond the moment of his own birth; and there came to him dim pictures of earthly history – even the visions of the great geological catastrophes or the deluge.

But in this spiritual consciousness all this was experienced not merely as ‘history’ but as the search for the birth of the soul out of the Divine; and so led to a realisation of immortality. Such experiences have been recorded in legendary form and in many ancient mythologies.

Eleanor C. Merry, The Flaming Door



The Temple

The temple has stood since primeval times; it is the place of initiation of human souls; to ‘enter’ it means simply to acquire the knowledge of the sublime plan of cosmic evolution.

To be initiated does not mean to know all things; no one can do that, not even the beings of the spiritual hierarchies. It means, rather, to perceive in a single survey the main outline of the evolutionary movement of everything.

This survey is made possible by the suprasensory ‘buildings’ of the Temple of Wisdom, constructed on the lines of intuition. The ‘buildings’ of the temple (if we imagine them as visible shapes) form an inverted bowl, out of which the seven streams of revelation flow.

These streams are the pillars of the temple, and the bowl is the dome. The seven pillars of the House of Wisdom, about which Solomon spoke, are also seven paths, or methods, of absorbing the streaming contents of the bowl, or the temple’s dome.

Valentin Tomberg, Christ and Sophia

Ecstasy and Enstasy

One can no longer deny the fact that, in the psychic domain, nothing dies and that the whole past lives present in the diverse layers of the depths of consciousness – the ‘unconscious’ or subconsciousness – of the soul….

…For this reason nothing perishes and nothing is lost in the domain of the psyche; essential history, ie real joy and suffering, real religions and revelations of the past, continue to live in us, and it is in we ourselves that the key to the essential history of mankind is to be found.

It is in we ourselves that there is to be found the ‘Edenic’ layer, or that of paradise and the Fall,  of which an account is to be found in the book of Genesis of Moses. Do you doubt the essential truth of this account? Descend into the depths of your own soul, descend as far as the roots, to the sources of feeling, will and intelligence – and you will know.

You will know, ie, you will have certainty that the Biblical narrative is true in the most profound and authentic sense of the word – in the sense that you must deny yourself, deny the witness of the inner structure of your own soul, in order to be able to doubt the intrinsic truth of Moses’ account.

The descent into the depths of your own soul in meditating upon the account of paradise in Genesis will render you incapable of doubt. Such is the nature of the certainty that one can have here….

….It expresses in symbolic language the first layer (first in the sense of the root of all that is human in human nature) of human psychic life, or its ‘beginning’. Now, knowledge of the beginning, initium in Latin, is the essence of initiation.

Initiation is the conscious experience of the initial microcosmic state (this is the Hermetic initiation), and of the initial macrocosmic state (this is the Pythagorean initiation). The first is a conscious descent into the depths of the human being, to the initial layer. Its method is enstasy, ie, experience of the depths at the foundation within oneself.

Here one becomes more and more profound until one awaens within oneself the primordial layer – or the image and likeness of God – which is the aim of enstasy. It is above all by means of the sense of spiritual touch that enstasy is effected. one can compare it to a chemical experiment undergone on the psychic and spiritual plane.

The second initiation experience – that we have designated ‘Pythagorean’ from a historial point of view – is based above all on the auditory sense or sense of spiritual hearing. It is essentially musical, just as the first is substantial or alchemical. It is by ecstasy – or rapture, or going out of oneself – that the macrocosmic layers (‘spheres’ or ‘heavens’) reveal themselves to consciousness.

Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Author, Letter VI, The Lover


Quarternary of Traditional Magic

With respect to the magnificent quarternary of  traditional magic: “to dare, to will, to be silent and to know,” it is formulated – mutandis mutatis – by the Master in the following way:

Ask and it will be given you; Seek, and you will find; Knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, And he who seeks finds, And to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew vii, 7-8)

It is a matter of daring to ask, of the will to seek, of being silent in order to knock and of knowing when it is opened to you. For knowledge does not happen automatically; it is what is revealed when the door is opened. This is the formula of the synthesis of effort and grace, of the principle of work and that of receptivity, and, lastly, of merit and gift.

This synthesis enunciates the absolute law of all spiritual progress and, consequently, all spiritual discipline. It is the law which every Christian disciple, of every Christian spiritual school, obeys. And Christian Hermeticism, ie, the whole of traditional mysticism, gnosis, magic and occult philosophy, passed through baptism and transfiguration by the fire, light and life of Christianity, is in no way an exception here.

It should not be forgotten that Christian Hermeticism is not a religion apart, nor  a church apart, nor even a science apart….it is the connecting link between mysticism, gnosis and magic, expressed through symbolism – symbolism being the means of expression of the dimensions of depth and height (and therefore of enstasy and ecstasy), of all that is universal (which corresponds to the dimension of breadth), and all that is traditional (corresponding to the dimension of length).

Being Christian, Hermeticism accepts the cross of the universality, the tradition, the depth and the height of Christianity, in the sense of the apostle Paul when he said:

That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God. (Ephesians iii, 18-19).

This is the complete formula of initiation.

Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VI The Lover

Mysteries in the Middle Ages

We have to remember that the Mysteries of ancient times were of such a nature and character that in the Mystery centres an actual meeting with the gods could take place. In the lectures recently given at the Christmas Foundation Meeting, I described how the human being who was an initiate or was about to receive initiation did truly meet with the gods.

And it was actually possible in those times to discover places that by their very locality were expressly fitted to induce such meetings with the gods.

The founding impulse for all the more ancient civilisations arose from such centres. Gradually, however, they disappeared, and from the fourth century onward were no longer to be found in their original form. Here and there we may come upon survivals, but the knowledge is no longer so exact or reliable. Not that initiation ever ceased; it was the form in which the candidates found their way that changed.

I have already indicated how things were in the Middle Ages. I have told you how here and there were individuals, living simple, humble, unpretentious lives, who did not gather around them a circle of official students in one particular place, but whose students were scattered in various directions in accordance with karma – with the karma, that is, of humankind or with the karma of some people or nation. I should like to tell you of a typical example, on that had very great influence, lasting from the twelfth and thirteenth, on into the fifteenth centuries:

Around AD 1200, there were a great number of people, especially younger people, who felt within them the urge for higher knowledge, for a union with the spiritual world – one may truthfully say, for a meeting with the gods. And the whole situation and condition of the times was such that very often it looked as though a person who was searching and striving in this way found his or her teacher almost by chance. In those days one could not find one’s teachers through books; it could come about only in an entirely personal way. But although it might look from without like a chance happening, in reality deep connections of destiny were at work in the event.

Rudolf Steiner, The Secret Stream, Hidden Centres of the Mysteries in the Middle Ages