“Hews the wall with might of magic,
Breaks the palisade in pieces,
Hews to atoms seven pickets …
Speaks the Master words of knowledge!”
“Hews the wall with might of magic,
Breaks the palisade in pieces,
Hews to atoms seven pickets …
Speaks the Master words of 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
With his world-created eye;
He is bound by what he sees
To joy and pain of the World,
He is bound to all
That becomes, but no less
To all that falls headlong
Into dark realms of the Abyss.
With the spirit-endowed eye;
He is bound by what he beholds
To spirit-hoping and spiritual sustaining force;
He is bound by it to all
That has roots in eternities
And in eternities bears fruit.
But man can behold
Only when he feels the inner eye itself
As a member of the Divine Spirit
Which on the stage of the human soul
In the temple of the human body
Works the deeds of Gods.
Mankind is now forgetful
Of the Divine inner realm,
But it is our will to bring it
Into the clear light of consciousness,
And then bear above rubble and ashes
The divine flames in the heart of man.
Lightning-bolts may therefore shatter
Our houses in the world of sense;
We are building houses of the soul
From the iron-firm.
Light-weaving of knowledge.
And downfall of the outer
Shall become ascent
Of innermost soul-being.
Suffering draws near
From the powers of material force;
Hope rays forth its light,
Even when darkness surrounds us;
And it will one day
Well up in our memory,
When after the darkness
We can again live in the light.
We would not let this inner light be lacking
In sun-illumined future times
Because we now in suffering
Have failed to plant it in our souls.
Rudolf Steiner, “Wahrspruchworte”
I also wonder about the Tetrarch, who occupies my mind so fully that he is by my side in all but body throughout each day. We are bound, he and I, by ties both seen and unseen. There are ties for all to see because the Tetrarch is an overlord of Delphi and it was he that insisted I should be appointed Pythia when the former priestess was murdered during the war. Then there are the unseen ties, because I alone have understanding of how much he means to me. Even my sisters do not realise the depth of this ocean. To my mind he is the Earthly representation of Apollo himself and loving one enables me to increase my understanding of the other. How fragile we are beneath the ruthless gaze of our Lord, but how sweet is the perfume of crushed flowers, so healing the oil of their divine essence.
My love for Apollo knows no bounds, for his light reaches even into places of darkness, he is my lord and my protector in times of danger, my guide through moments of chaos. He is the husband I cannot have, the mind which inhabits my own and requires me to master this world.
Of all the places that I know to be in existence I have the greatest desire to see Hyperborea, cradle of my Master. It is in Hyperborea that the wax and feathers temple may now be seen, for it was carried there in the chariot of Apollo many moons ago and preserved as a portal to the underworld.
The Tetrarch seldom comes here during the cold and stormy months of Dionysus (The Tyrant Cleisthenes, by contrast, invariably does) but he frequents this place when the God has returned from his travels in Hyperborea. Once – when I was a child and prone to some irrational thinking – I asked Timocrates whether we might follow the God when he journeys through winter to that shining, golden land of sun and ice. His answer was decisive and prevented further query:
“Neither by ship nor on foot could you find the marvellous road to the meeting-place of the Hyperboreans , but in any case it is not for you to pursue Gods or men – wherever they may wander – and if you were ever to leave here in order to do such a thing you could never return and hope to keep your life.”
I never mentioned it again, as I do of course understand perfectly that this life is not my own to have desires with. I have learned to hold my peace, for the war has instilled in me too much knowledge already of the evils men might inflict upon one another and careless tongues or minds can spell catastrophe. As I am under scrutiny from most people for much of the time and some people at all times, I guard my words and deeds minutely, the importance of behaving discreetly having been seriously impressed upon me from an early age.
As a rule, therefore, my thoughts are carefully measured and then voiced with reason, my mind is generally clear and grasps at nothing, for everyone and everything is waiting for the God to speak through me and that is the singular reason for my existence. This is the way it is and always has been and always will be, lest the gods of Olympus are rearranged with another at their pinnacle.
In any case, all of us here are at peace now the war has ended and our fortunes are so very great. Far be it from me to break such peace. Riches beyond most men’s wildest dreams are scattered along our roads as carelessly as leaves, and arts beyond the realms of mortal man’s imagination are conceived of and created quite effortlessly, from beneath the steady gaze of the Master of the Muses. Here it is that the true source of inspiration might be found, the fountain of joy, source of the birdsong.
Although the alchemists were more or less aware that their insights and truths were of divine origin, they knew they were not sacred revelations but were vouchsafed by individual inspiration or by the lumen naturae, sapientia Dei hidden in nature. The autonomy of their insights showed itself in the emancipation of science from the domination of faith. Human intolerance and shortsightedness are to blame for the open conflict that ultimately broke out between faith and knowledge. Conflict or comparison between incommensurables is impossible. The only possible attitude is one of mutual toleration, for neither can deprive the other of its validity. Existing religious beliefs have, besides their supernatural foundation, a basis in psychological facts whose existence is as valid as those of the empirical sciences. If this is not understood on one side or the other it makes no difference to the facts, for these exist whether man understands them or not, and whoever does not have the facts on his side will sooner or later have to pay the price.
With this I would like to conclude my remarks on sulphur. This arcane substance has provided occasion for some general reflections, which are not altogether fortuitous in that sulphur represents the active substance of the sun or, in psychological language, the motive factor in consciousness: on the one hand the will, which can best be regarded as a dynamism subordinated to consciousness, and on the other hand compulsion, an involuntary motivation or impulse ranging from mere interest to possession proper. The unconscious dynamism would correspond to sulphur, for compulsion is the great mystery of human life. It is the thwarting of our conscious will and of our reason by an inflammable element within us, appearing now as a consuming fire and now as life-giving warmth.
Carl Jung, Personification of the Opposites (Sulphur), Mysterium Conjunctionis
If one goes through this trial by water – if one develops self-control – then one’s soul enters into a region of destiny where one not only has no ground beneath one’s feet and must find one’s own direction by a kind of ‘swimming’; the soul also enters here into a space devoid of air. One enters into an utter loneliness and wilderness of soul life.
The impulses of thinking, willing and feeling cease. One’s soul is like a sailing ship standing with sagging sails in windless weather. It enters into a condition in which all experiences cease. There is no basis upon which to sense, to feel, or to will. The soul is in complete loneliness.
Now the soul must find the presence of the spirit out of its own power. Without surrendering to passivity, it must find the strength for an impulse-to-action within itself. The soul’s awakening at the moment of falling asleep – awakening itself through the strength of its own inner being, through the power of the I itself, without any motive for staying awake – is the presence of the spirit (presence of mind).
The soul is spiritually present when it is silent. The power of the soul to keep itself awake at the moment of falling asleep is this presence of spirit. It makes intuition possible, and is necessary for intuitional knowledge.
These first three trials – these first three experiences – represent the human ascent into the spiritual world.
Valentin Tomberg, Inner Development, The Occult Trials
The scientific method is very good a knowing some things, but it can be an impediment to knowing other things. Suppose, for instance, a gentleman is attracted to a certain lady and wishes to become better acquainted with her. Can he achieve this by measuring her, taking her temperature and subjecting her to a CAT scan? Not only will these operations fail to tell him what he really wants to know, but they are likely to so annoy the object of his inquiry that she stops returning his calls.
What he really wishes to know – the intimate secrets of her body and soul – can only be learned if he ceases to be objective. She will entrust her secrets to him only if he displays a clear bias in her favour. And the more exclusive his knowledge of her – that is, the less it can be confirmed by any observer besides himself – the more precious it is to him. The alchemist would argue that all natural phenomena have something in common with the lady.
They unfold some of their secrets to objective, scientific inquiry while bestowing others only on the subjective observer. The soul of a thing – whether animal, vegetable, or mineral – reveals itself only in active relationship to another soul.
Catherine MacCoun, On Becoming an Alchemist
An indeterminate length of time later the witness re-emerged, relieved of magazine and whiskey glass but clutching to heart an exceedingly large, old and important-looking volume. The disappearance of Pros Theon had ended a few short minutes after its guardian entered the large, cluttered bathroom, whereupon it was joyfully rediscovered amidst a towering stack of books.
Unspeakably relieved with seven years of life added back on, the witness placed the priceless treasure on the polished wooden desk with a great sense of ceremony, lit an ancient lamp and turned to the penultimate section:
Μεταμόρφωσις ἀλκυονίδες (Transformatio Dies)*
Translating and interpreting the metamorphosing text was a mission that took every effort of will and imagination, the fruits of the prophetic tome being rare and arcane indeed. At a certain point – in need of divine assistance – the witness looked over the text and out of the window for inspiration, focusing on the swaying tree tops as a breath-taking vision manifested with perfect clarity in the darkening ether.
A great supernatural bird – a huge white-headed eagle – awoke prophetic memory with his clairvoyant eyes then spread his enormous wings and took to flight towards the window. His sights were locked with terrible precision on the fixated witness, who felt a heavenly upsurge of pure joy and ran in the eagle’s direction as if physically lifted from the chair, having reverted back to childhood in a twinkling of the eye.
They reached the window as one and were simultaneously faced with the realisation that a window between worlds was separating them. The knowledge brought both grief and gratitude in equal measure, as the love-struck witness was just able to grasp one of the bird’s magnificent tail feathers and later attach it to the sun-tinted dream catcher. More evocations of Halcyon Days would be captured by this than all the other feathers combined.
“What you seek is seeking you”
* Days of Transformation
Now from where do the higher beings obtain this plan? We find an answer to this if we consider that there are still higher stages of evolution where the plans are devised. That is where world evolution is worked out. These higher stages are indicated to us by the Ancients, for instance by Dionysius, the pupil of the Apostle Paul, and also by Nicholas Cusanus. His perception was:
Higher than all knowledge and perception is the lack of perception. But this Unknowing is a higher knowing, and this lack of perception is a higher perceiving.
When we stop looking at what we hold in our thinking and concepts of the world, and turn ourselves to what wells up, to our inner powers, then we find something still higher. The Masters can weave the [third] Logos because they have ascended still higher than the nature of thinking. When the higher powers are developed, then, in such beings, thought appears as something different. It then corresponds to our spoken word within us. The thought which constitutes the innermost being for the Masters can itself be the expression of a higher being, just as the word is the expression of thought [with us].
If we ourselves consider thought as the word of a still higher being, then we come near to the concept of a the Logos. Knowledge taken out from thought stands on a still higher level.
When we behold the world we find the atom at the one extreme. It is an image of the plan that proceeded out of the depths of the spirit of the Masters, which is the Logos. If we now look for the transformation of man himself during the great world epoch, then we are led back again into the world.
If we now look for the transformation of man himself during the great world epoch, then we are led back again into the world.
Just as man has descended, has plunged down to the physical plane, so is it also with the world as a whole. What contributes to the development of man’s self lies around him in the world.
But then we are led down to the lower planes, which however, themselves contain the higher planes….the Lodge of the Masters.
Rudolf Steiner, Atoms and the Logos
for Thou hast redeemed my soul from the Pit,
and from the hell of Abaddon
Thou hast raised me up to everlasting height.
I walk on limitless level ground,
and I know there is hope for him
whom Thou hast shaped from dust
for the everlasting Council.
Thou hast cleansed a perverse spirit of great sin
that it may stand with the host of the Holy Ones,
and that it may enter into community
with the congregation of the Sons of Heaven.
Thou hast allotted to man an everlasting destiny
amidst the spirits of knowledge,
that he may praise Thy Name in a common rejoicing
and recount Thy marvels before all Thy works.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, Hymn 10