The Lost Light 2

Alvin Boyd Kuhn

Part 1 – Chapter I-IV
Part 2 – Chapter V-IX
Part 3 – Chapter X-XV
Part 4 – Chapter XVI-XIX
Part 5 – Chapter XX-XII

Chapter V

LOOSING THE SEVEN SEALS

If the mythologies of the early nations have been a source of perplexity and bafflement to students, no less so has been the Christian Bible itself. Not even the most rabid Christian partisan could claim that the book has throughout a clear message, clearly to be apprehended. Outside of much simple homiletic truth which has yielded comfort to troubled hearts, the Bible is as yet practically a sealed book. Its meaning is not known at the present day. Nothing but the thinnest shadow of the truth that the book portrays has yet fallen across the threshold of modern understanding. No suspicion of the grand completeness of its message has yet dawned upon us. Nineteen hundred years of theological digging has not unearthed the treasure buried under its allegorical profundities. And this failure has been due to our stubborn refusal to reject the Bible as history, and to accept it as cryptic typology. From beginning to end the Bible is nothing but a series of spiritual allegories traduced to history or interwoven with some history.

A further startling discovery along this line is that the series of myths deals not with a wide variety of spiritual or cosmical situations, but only with the same one situation in endless repetition! There is but one story to religion and its Bibles, only one basic event from which spring all the motivations of loyalty and morality that stir the human heart. The myth-makers had but one narrative to relate, one fundamental mystery of life to dilate upon. All phases of spiritual life arise out of the elements of the one cosmic and racial situation in which the human group is involved; and all scriptural allegory has reference to this basic datum, and meaning only in relation to it. The myths are all designed to keep mankind apprised of this central predicament. It is the key to the Bible. And it is the loss of this key situation that has caused the Book to be sealed against the age-long assaults of our curious prying and delving. The restoration of this key to our hands will be seen at once to open the doors to a vision of clear meaning, where now stalks dark incomprehensibility. Cosmology has been almost wholly discarded from religion since Milton’s day, yet a cosmical situation provides the ground for all adequate interpretation of Bible representation. The one central theme is the incarnation.

Beside esotericism and allegorism the Bible composers had recourse to another method which is less readily demonstrable and which has caused the confusion incident to mistaking myth for history to be far worse confounded. It was the method of uranography. The uranograph was the chart of the heavens with the constellated pictography. From remote times the ancients dealt with a celestial chart or map, on which their earliest teachers had essayed to depict the features of the soul’s experience in the scenes which their enlightened imaginations had traced about the star clusters. The stellar zodiacs left at Denderah, Pylae and elsewhere are impressive reminders of the influence of this heavenly scenograph. The discovery in quite recent years of the Somerset zodiac in England, a giant zodiac wrought, it is calculated, 2700 B.C. in the natural features of the countryside covering one hundred square miles, with the figure of Leo, the Lion, four miles from nose to tail-tip, is another most authentic attestation to the basic significance which symbolical astrology has held in ancient religious formulations. Present students have as yet little conception of how generally this graph was employed in spiritual ideography and how pervasively it colored the composition of the scriptural writings. It is next to impossible to grasp subtle references in the Bible and other archaic literature without a knowledge of the features of this planisphere. Bibles are in fact, in a broad general sense, just the literary extension and amplification of the symbology of the zodiac! The sages had first written the history of the human soul upon the starry skies.

If we hold them guilty of having thus perpetrated what seems to us pure whimsicality, we are convicted of ignorance on another count. They were depicting history in that sphere where it had first occurred, before it began with man on earth. Spiritual history had been enacted on a cosmic scale in the heavens, in higher ranges of cosmic life, before it was repeated and copied in the human drama on this globe. The heavenly man, in whose image and likeness earthly man is made, and in whose body the suns and planets are but cells and organs, was the prototype of man himself. And so it comes that humanity was in pri- mordial times instructed to build its life “after the pattern of things in the heavens.” The planisphere was the historical and anatomical graph of the Divine Cosmical Man, and it became at once a secret glyph for the behoof of mundane humanity.

In the spirit of this understanding the religious teachers of yore ever sought to write into human, racial, national and individual history the reflection or pattern of the uranograph. This effort was the secret motif back of all national epics! The epic was an attempt to fashion national history in the similitude of the structural unity of the divine plan for macrocosmic, and by reflection, microcosmic, man. This is in general the theme of such an esoteric work as the Jewish Kabalah.

The distinctive features of the cosmograph are in evidence in every case. In every religious epic there is first and centrally a Holy City, a “Jerusalem,” residence of the king and the eventual home of all the elect. There is next an Upper and Lower Land, typifying the dual segmentation of heaven and earth, or spirit and body, in man’s nature, which was in all systems held to be the union of a divine with an animal principle. The two sections were always connected by a river, rising in the higher mountainous sources in the Upper Kingdom and flowing thence, carrying its blessings of fertility, down into the Lower Kingdom, which is thus nourished by the living water from above. Then there was always a bordering sea, symbolical in every case of the stormy ephermeral scene of the mortal life. No less was there a smaller water, a lake, Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, Black Sea, Red Sea, Jordan River, Styx River, or the marshes or fens, which were to be crossed by the voyaging soul to reach the more blessed isles, or farther shore of spiritual bliss. Strangely enough there, was a further division of the land into seven tribal provinces, a heptarchy or heptanomis, as in Egypt, Judea, England and elsewhere. This division was representative of the seven kingdoms of nature, the seven stages of unfoldment through which life must pass in the completion of every cycle. At other times the division was a decad, after the pattern of the Sephirothal Tree of the Kabbalah, but eventually redistributed in twelve sections, as in the case of the Hebrews, Athens, Afghanistan and some others, reflecting the twelvefold segmentation of the zodiac, which in turn typified the twelve levels of man’s evolutionary attainment, or “twelve manner of fruits” on the branches of the Tree of Life, the twelve divine elements of man’s perfected being. Likewise there was always a definite locality designated as the birthplace of the god, which was in many instances also his place of death and burial and following resurrection. Other centers marked the scene of his initiations, temptations, baptisms, trials, crucifixion and transfiguration, every stage of his evolutionary experience, in fact. Then there were cities dedicated to the special cult of the sun, the moon, and even such stars as Orion, the stellar symbol of the Christos; or of Sirius, the great Dog-Star, symbol of the advent. The four cardinal points were featured, as emblematic of the four pillars of man’s constitution, his physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies and natures. A warfare between the Upper and Lower Lands and their kings was generally a part of the “history,” ending in the conquest of the Lower by the Higher and the union of the two under the crown of dual sovereignty. This drama was enacted so often in the “history” of so many kings of Egypt that even a scholar of the eminence of the late William H. Breasted, in his History of Egypt, expresses his puzzlement over the fact that nearly every Pharaoh of the dynasties had to conquer Lower Egypt afresh and unite the two halves of the country under a common hegemony! In all likelihood the physiography and organic structure of the heavenly man was to some extent copied in the distribution and construction of pyramids, tombs, temples and other sanctuaries, and the pyramids themselves were quite obviously astronomical graphs with ceremonial design and conformations. There was a mountain or holy hill of the Lord, and there were points of entrance and exit from and to the lower world of Amenta.

The celestial typology having been engrafted on the topography of the country itself, the next measure was to weave the dramatic features into the national history. Egypt and the Hebrew tribes are perhaps the most outstanding examples of the operation of this methodology on an extensive scale, how extensive the general student of the present age is unprepared to believe. Thus the names associated for ages with cosmic and spiritual typism were spread out over the maps of the different lands; and the national kings, heroes, warriors, sages became titular characters in the immemorial heavenly drama. In the light of this custom we are in a position to reach a conclusion of the very greatest importance for research, affecting the entire view of scripture as history. For we are confronted with the inexpugnable fact that the names and events in religious scripts were for the greater part not the products of objective history in the first place, but on the contrary the names and events in assumed history were a deposit from the religious books! The names of kings, heroes, cities, lakes, rivers and mountains were on the uranograph long before they appeared on national maps! They were transferred from the uranograph to the maps! The occurrences of Bible “history” had been enacted annually or nightly among the stars of the sky long before they became incorporated in the epics of religion. And they had been in the epics before they became assigned to actual localities and personages. Heavenly regions and spiritual transactions were finally brought to earth and given a local habitation on land and in history. In short, the naming of geographical features was done by the sacerdotal castes in each country, in which task they simply sought to pattern their country and its history after the scheme of the uranograph! Their map and their history were cast as far as could be done in the mold of the cosmic chart. Each nation designed to make its configuration and history reflect and fulfill the heavenly model!

A partial exemplification of the same tendency can be seen even in our own American history, where the priestly class gave religious names to the earliest settlements and geographical features. The practice is attested by such names as Salem, Providence, New Haven, Newark, New Canaan, Bethlehem, Nazareth (Pennsylvania), Sante Fe, Sacramento, Corpus Christi, Los Angeles, Vera Cruz, San Salvador, San Domingo and a list of saints’ names and holy appellations. The Puritans from England and Holland emigrated to New England actuated powerfully by the assurance that they were going to fulfill in the new continent the ancient Covenant between Jehovah and the Israelites. The Mayflower was part of the religious epic. The Anglo-Israel movement of the present day manifests largely the same tendencies.

The theory here advanced is not without support from other authorities. The following brings the weight of a very venerable document to the endorsement of the idea:

“It has already been suggested that the mapping out of localities was celestial before the chart was geographically applied and that all common naming on earth came from one common naming of the heavens, commencing with the Great Bear and the Dog. The mapping out of Egyptian localities according to the celestial Nomes and scenery is described in the inscription of Khnum-hept, who is said to have ‘established the landmark of the south, and sculptured the northern – like the heaven. He stretched the Great Bear on its back. He made the district in its two parts, setting up their landmarks, like the heaven.’” (Records of the Past, XII, 68.)

An evident additional corroboration of the theory is contained in the injunction given to Moses in the Bible:

“See that thou make all things after the pattern shown thee in the Mount . . . the pattern of the heavens.”

“Jerusalem, the Mount of Peace, the Nabhi-Yoni of the Earth, was one of these sacred cities that were mapped out according to the Kamite model in the heavens.”1

“The pattern of things in the Mount,” “the pattern of the heavens,” has not hitherto been seen to be the Biblical analogue and symbol of Plato’s ideal forms. The Mount, the heavens, are of course the heights of divine ideation, whereon God projected his new world in thought forms before he impressed them upon matter. The heavens are the uplands of consciousness, or spheres of being, not physical localities. God formed his mental models on the Mount of Vision and Imagination before he cast them into concretion.

So far from grasping the uranographic art as the key to the historical problem in all scriptures, late writers vent their skepticism on this point in passages such as this:

“What proof is there – we ask once more – that the people, the mystics even, of two thousand or more years ago, read all this into the heavens; that they regarded the various divisions and towns, and the river and name of Galilee, as mystical and earthly reflexes of these celestial phenomena!”2

There is proof enough in the very fact that the ancient seers were poets and allegorists, and not historians. Practically conclusive evidence that Bible names are not objective or historical (in the first place) is to be found in the fact that there are in the Bible some scores of allusions to such local names as Egypt, Jerusalem, Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, Sidon, Gilead, Assyria, Galilee, Ethiopia and others which, if taken in the earthly geographical sense, yield no intelligible meaning whatever. Further evidence is to be found in the notable fact that the divisions and localities on mundane maps do in the main largely match the celestial features. Charts of the “Holy Land of Canaan” have been found extant in early Egypt as much as three hundred years before the alleged Israelite exodus, whence it is to be presumed that this promised land of peace and plenty was allegorical before it was historical. Massey states that an entablature on the wall of an Egyptian temple bore a list of some hundred and twenty place names afterwards localized in Palestine, at a date at least one hundred and fifty years before there could possibly have been an exodus of Israelites from Egypt. It requires little “proof” to ascertain that “Egypt” as used throughout the Bible has the meaning of the lower self or animal-human personality, indeed the physical body of man itself. Jerusalem means the “holy city” or the heavenly realms, which are in consciousness, not on the map.

“The picture of this paradise in the Hebrew writings, the Psalms, the Books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Revelation, were pre-extant long ages earlier as Egyptian. What the so-called ‘prophets’ of the Jews did was to make sublunary the vision of the good time in another life. There were always two Jerusalems from the time when Judea and Palestine were appendages of Egypt. Two Jerusalems were recognized by Paul, one terrestrial, one celestial. The name of Jerusalem we read as the Aarru-salem or fields of peace in the heaven of the never-setting stars. The burden of Jewish prophecy, which turned out so terribly misleading for those who were ignorant of the secret wisdom, is that the vision of this glorious future should be attained on earth; whereas it never had that meaning. . . . Thus Jerusalem on earth was to take the place of Jerusalem above and the Aarru-hetep became Jerusalem simply as a mundane locality.”3

From numberless texts in the Bible itself which point to the correctness of the uranographic interpretation of names we take one alone, which by itself is enough to substantiate the claim made in this connection. In Revelation (II: 8), speaking of the two witnesses whom it is said the dragon will rise up and slay, the apocalyptic writers says:

“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

There is enough in this verse to confound the entire schematism of Christian theology as historically based. It implies a clear refutation of the whole Passion Week and Good Friday ritual, as commemorative of “history.” Jesus, so it says, was not crucified in an earthly Jerusalem, but only in a spiritual one, the name of which is indifferently Sodom or Egypt, the latter not even the name of an earthly city, but of a country! Jesus crucified in Egypt! And what becomes of the Gospel “history”? It is left to take its only true place, which is among the sacred myths! The crucifixion was, on the authority of the Bible itself, a spiritual and not a historical transaction.

T. J. Thorburn, author of a work aiming to invalidate the mythical nature of the Gospels, reveals the perplexity as well as the ineptitude of orthodox scholars in the face of the ancient trick of uranography and allegory:

“And if their statements are not to be taken in their natural and historical sense, then we must hold that in ancient literature it is more than doubtful whether writers ever mean precisely what they say.”4

They surely never dreamed that an age would come, so far lost to the mythical intent of their writings as to suppose they ever meant literally what they said. They could not know that the wisest savants of a distant epoch would be so blinded by the forces of obscurantism as not to realize that the old books spoke only in the terms of those earthly forms that adumbrate spiritual realities. The old masters of religious science were not in the habit of speaking “precisely”; they spoke under the forms of figure always. They could not suspect that their indirect poetical method would so outrageously befuddle modern “intelligence.”

Ancient philosophy was intensely responsive to the conception that all things mundane were a lower copy of things empyrean. On the theory that all forms of life were typical of the one basic nature of all life everywhere, the sages read into earthly things the reflection of things celestial. Jesus said he could not tell the disciples of heavenly things unless they had first believed in earthly things. The sea of earth life reflected heavenly life in its bosom. The seers who knew that nature was a dramatization of cosmic archai, sought for the evidence of the archetypal design in every phenomenon on earth. With what remarkable nicety they traced higher truth in the mirror of nature we shall see clearly as the story unfolds. So, in the end, in their religious life they labored to represent their history as conforming to the primordial type. To this end they resorted to a measure which has caught and deceived purblind scholarship since that time. From the general thesis that their national history reflected God’s plan for the world, it was an easy step to the more explicit assumption that their national life embodied the divine plan. They threw about themselves the aureole of divinely constituted agency to fulfill the cosmic plan. They therefore arrogated to themselves the title of “God’s chosen people,” and took the names allotted only to the spiritualized humans, the men evolved to divinity! This tack will not appear either unlikely or outlandish when we ponder the disposition of nations in our own day to put forth blatant claims to be the chosen agents of Providence for the cultural rulership of the world.

Even if there seems to be veridical history in the Bible, it can be viewed properly as a setting for the spiritual dramatization, or as the clothing in which the drama was garbled. At times, perhaps, the writers appear to have utilized the data of actual history to stage the symbolic figurations. To this task the religious poets dedicated their ingenuity.

It becomes evident on this thesis that the historical element of the scriptures is of far less significance than has been supposed. It is the philosophy of history and not the data of history that is of foremost concern. As exhibiting providential design in world life it becomes of epic moment. The Hebrew race has exploited this phase of the old methodology to its highest possibility, only, however, as Egypt had done before it; and has been so successful that it has left the impression of a unique and exalted hierarchical status for the Jewish race. The outcome of our correction of vision will be that we shall for the first time properly regard the Old Testament books as, in the main, the universal drama of the spiritual life masquerading in the disguise of Hebrew history subtly woven into the great cosmic epic! The Biblical title Israelites is a spiritual designation purely, and is wrongly taken in the sense of the name of an ethnic group. “My people of Israel” or “the children of Israel” of the Hebrew deity are just the divinized humans, mortals who have put on the immortal spiritual nature, men graduated into Christhood, a spiritual group in the early Mysteries. Gentiles were those who were not yet spiritually reborn. The word comes from the Latin and Greek roots, “gen,” “gent,” meaning simply “to be born.” They were those born as the first or natural man, but not yet reborn as the spiritual Christ. It can be given no ethnic reference. The name “Israelite” is obviously compounded of “Is,” abbreviation of Isis, or Eve’s original name, Issa (See Josephus); “Ra,” the great Egyptian solar god, male and spiritual; and the Hebrew “El,” God. It would then read, Father-Mother-God, making his “children” the sons of God, i.e., Christs. Likewise the name “Hebrews” means “those beyond” (the merely human state), and therefore is practically identical with “Israelites.” Finally the term “Jews” (from the plural of the Egyptian IU – Latin JU) refers to the “male-female divinities,” a title given in the Mysteries to men made gods and thus restored to androgyne, or male-female, condition. The national Jews thus adopted for their historical name all three of the exalted spiritual designations conferred in the Mysteries on the Epoptae or completely divinized candidates.

It was hardly expected that any positive documentary evidence could be found in support of the evident fact that these names had simply been appropriated by the race using them as illustrious titles abstracted from the uranograph. But a direct statement to that precise effect was found in the Hebrew Grammar of Gesenius, a learned German scholar, (on p. 6):

“Of the names Hebrews . . . and Israelites . . . the latter was more a national name of honor and was applied by the people to themselves with a patriotic reference to their descent from illustrious ancestors; . . .”

This is of vast significance as affecting the historical view of the Bible, with possible extremely severe repercussions on world history of the present.

The fourth consideration found essential to a grasp of archaic meaning is the knowledge that religion was an outgrowth from a specific situation involving the human race at its beginning. Religion is commonly assigned to a category under the head of psychology. It is a matter of mind and emotion.

But the roots of religion are found to go deeper than any mere inclination of the psyche. Eventually religion took psychological forms of expression, but it was originally not mere psychology. It was an outgrowth of anthropology. It took its rise out of the racial or evolutionary beginnings and bore an immediate relation thereto. Every feature of it was engendered out of the interrelation of the several elements entering into the compound of man’s constitution.

Human nature was composed of more than one element. There were the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual. More compactly viewed, there are the human-animal and the divine. Religion is just the play of the factors of the interrelationship subsisting between these several natures in man. Or it is the relation between man and his god, the latter being universally existent primarily within him, secondarily without. It details the history of the soul or divine spark of spirit in its cyclical incorporation in human bodies. Its central fact is the incarnation, the relation of soul to body, God to man, man to God.

According to Plato’s Timaeus and other archaic documents a group of twelve legions of “junior gods,” who were sparks of the eternal Flame of cosmic mind, were ordered, as their assignment in the cooperative work of creation with Deity, to descend to earth and elevate the races of the highest animal development by linking their own mental capacity with the organisms thus far developed by the evolution of form. They were to lift the animals across the gulf between the summit of instinct and the beginnings of reason. These angels were devas, “bright” or “shining” emanations of divine intelligence, but were not exempt from the “cycle of necessity,” or periodical immersion in forms of physical embodiment on a planet for purposes of their own further self-evolution. It subserved both the interests of their own progress and that of the animals they were to uplift, that the two races, the one germinally conscious and immortal, the other dumbly brutish and mortal, should be periodically joined together, the higher to be the king and ruler of the lower. The procedure thus adopted by life gave to the animal the possibility of evolving a mind through association with a mental nature, and to the intelligent spirits the physical bodies that were their particular requirement for contacting the type of experience they were destined to undergo. If this seems bizarre, it must be remembered that all living entities are the result of the linkage of a spiritual nucleus with a material organism. No creature lives but what is compounded of “soul” and body.

In conformity with evolutionary law these legions of devas or angels, we are told, descended to earth, took lodgment in the bodies of higher animals and began their career of redeeming the lower creatures to mental status. In the Timaeus these “junior gods” are addressed by the Demiurgus (the creative Logos, Jupiter) and are told to descend and “convert yourselves according to your natures to the fabrication of animals,” the gist of their mission being summed up in the command to “weave together mortal and immortal natures.” This is one of the most important utterances of ancient scripture, because it announces the character of our constitution and sets forth plainly our evolutionary commission. It tells us that we are both animal-human and divine at once, animal as to our bodies, divine as to our intellects. For Plato says: “According to body it is an animal, but according to intellect a god.” Our earthly task, according to St. Paul, is to link together the two natures in “one new man,” bringing to an end in a final “reconciliation” “the battle of Armageddon,” the aeonial warfare between the “carnal mind” of the animal and the spiritual mind of the god. This warfare is also Plato’s strife between noësis, the spiritual intelligence, and doxa, the motions of the sense nature. The soul is here in body to discipline the latter by the inculcation of habits of rectitude until the animal learns to use the powers of mind. Tutoring the animal, the soul at the same time achieved its own higher schooling in deific unfoldment. This interlocking of the two grades of life in one organism must be constantly kept in view if the proper study of religion is to be made. No organic evolution can proceed from one kingdom to another without the deploying of the mental resources of a superior kingdom in aid of the level below it. And each kingdom profits by the act of brotherhood. The god achieves his own further apotheosis by reaching down to raise the animal to human estate.

It must be noted that when the intelligence of the god is joined to the life of the animal, it communicates but a fragment of its power to the organism, remaining for the larger part of its conscious being hidden on its own spiritual plane. It thus becomes an invisible guardian, or what the ancients called the “daimon.” Lurking in the background of consciousness, it is what modern psychology has lately discovered and named the “collective unconscious.” From behind the curtain, as it were, it directs the animal with only a tentacle of its power. It can’t incorporate in the animal a greater measure of its capacity than the latter can suitably accommodate and carry. It will push down into expression more and more of itself as the refinement of the coarse body goes on apace. Like a radio, the mechanism must be tuned up higher to register finer vibrations. In the Greek theosophy it is stated that “the gods distribute divinity” to the grades of beings below them, which “participate according to their capacity.”

In briefest summary (to be amplified to greater elaboration in the sequel) this is the basic cosmological and racial datum of every old religion. Together with its implications it is the basis of every religious interpretation ever made or to be made. Every problem of ethics, devotion, discipline and intellect receives its full complement of value and meaning only in reference to this fundamentum. Religion is far more than a posture of mystic feeling; it was in origin a series of codes, principles and practices given by the demi-gods to early mankind to awaken the torpid genius of our actual divinity. In a true sense it was designed to wield a semi-magical influence to transform animal man into the divinized human! Its rites were formulated with a view to bestirring man’s memory of his essential deific character. It was in no sense merely worship. It was the most intensely practical and utilitarian culture the world has ever known. It was designed to prevent the utter loss of purpose and failure of effort in the cosmical task to which man, as a celestial intelligent spirit, had pledged himself under the Old Testament covenant and “the broad oaths fast sealed” of Greek theology. In coming to earth to help turn the tide of evolution past one of its most critical passages, he bound himself to do the work and return without sinking into the mire of animal sensuality. We must henceforth approach religion with the realization that it is the psychic instrumentality designed for the use of humanity in charting its way through the shoals of the particular racial and evolutionary crisis in which it was involved. All the stupendous knowledge relating to the entire cosmic chapter was once available, given by the gods to the sages. We have nearly lost it beyond recovery because the ignorance of an early age closed the Academies and crushed every attempt to revive the teaching. The prodigious folly of the modern essay to vitalize religion through piety alone will be more fully seen as the ancient picture takes form in the delineation. Our present business is to struggle to regain that lost paradise of intelligence. We must work again to the recognition of our high cosmic mission, and revivify the decadent forms of a once potent religious practique, based on knowledge. For spiritual cultism was once vitally related to our evolutionary security, which stands jeopardized by present religious desuetude.

The nature of the material to be presented in volume will enforce by the sheer illuminative power of the interpretation itself the necessity for this extended introduction. It was quite impossible to undertake the exegesis of recondite scriptures long misinterpreted or never interpreted at all, without providing a rationale of ancient literary methodology and setting up a background of philosophical light. The erection of this background was made all the more necessary by the inveterate recalcitrancy of modern scholarship to recognize the applicability of the methods and principles outlined. Their validation by the substance and meaning of the larger presentment now to be made involves nothing less than the complete revision of all our interpretative norms in religious study.

NOTES

1. Massey: The Natural Genesis, I, p. 168.

2. The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels, T. J. Thorburn, p. 108.

3. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 539.

4. The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels, p. 109.

Chapter VI

THE DESCENT TO AVERNUS

The rectification of misguided rendering of holy writ in its entirety is a work of great magnitude and will tax severely the capacity of a single book. Particularly in regard to the traditional dogmas of theology, where misconception has become embedded in set habitudes of mind, the reinterpretation can be established only by the presentation of material in overwhelming quantity. The bare statement of the main theses of the venerable philosophy would be met with contempt or arrogant rejection. The claims must therefore be buttressed by a mass of irrefutable data. This material has not been marshaled for this use before in anything like organic array.

The story most properly begins with what is called in theology “the descent of the gods.” Traditional lore is replete with legends of the “expulsion of the angels,” “the fall of Lucifer and his hosts,” “the fall from heaven,” and the more philosophical “descent of the soul.” These phrase-titles relate to the first step in the series of pre-historical and even pre-mundane episodes which culminated in the establishment of humanity on earth and the fabrication of human nature combining both a natural and a supernatural element. The substrate datum in religion is that man is an animal and a god in union. There were animals on earth and angels in heaven; and the counsels of cosmic intelligence decreed that the angels should join forces with the animals and be their gods. The conjunctive experience would educate both parties. The effort to overcome matter’s inertia and the sense urge of the flesh would develop more dynamic spiritual initiative for the gods. They would be forced to deploy more of their potential and as yet static divine power to gain mastery over the elementary forces of the physical world.

Hints are not wanting in the old scripts to show that their obligation to leave their home of blissful rest in dreamy sub-consciousness in the ethereal spheres and suffer the hardships of earth life in gross animal bodies was in some part at least a measure of karmic retribution for past dereliction elsewhere. Pride and insolence are ascribed to them by Greek theology. Violated oaths and “Moira’s bounds transgressed” are alluded to by the philosophic poets. As evolution links penalty with readjustment and forward progress, it is not difficult to admit the play of both retributive and normal procedure in the enforced descent of minor deities to our globe. It is the expulsion of Satan and his hosts from heaven in Paradise Lost and Revelation. So presented, it has been taken either as a mythical unreality or an inscrutable chapter of celestial history, and discarded from serious consideration in religious systematism. It is, however, the central situation and must be restored to its pivotal place of consequence in the picture. The doctrine of the “descent” is crucial for the interpretation. True or false, it is what the scriptures are building their narratives upon.

Of the original twelve legions of deities, ten have plunged into the stream of incarnation and are now passing through the experiences incident thereto. At the conclusion of the venture, after many incarnations for each individual member, they will return to their celestial abodes, transfigured and further divinized. The allegory of the Prodigal Son is a short glyph or graph of this evolutionary descent and return. There is hardly a religious book of any ancient nation that does not deal more or less directly with that event.

To see the “descent” as an integral function of cosmic process and not as a calamitous “fall,” it is quite necessary to expound a portion of Orphic-Platonic cosmogony.

The beginning must be made where creation itself begins. It starts from Unity. All things proceed from what was aboriginally and ever ultimately is, the One Life. The pagan name for the Supreme Power was commonly The One. All things ultimately resolve into the primordial One, since they emanate from that One in the beginning. Before manifestation takes place, Being is homogeneous, undifferentiated. It is uniform similitude and excludes dissimilitude. It is all One Essence, alike in every part, if parts there are.

But in such state it is unmanifest, and from our point of view unconscious, asleep, inert. The Hindu term is Pralaya. And out of Pralaya it must awake, for it sleeps only in alternate turn with waking activity, as do all its creatures made in its likeness. It passes, like them from death to life and back again, in eternal routine.

To awake and come into being it must by force of logic perform an operation upon its own nature which is the first ground of manifestation. It can’t create a universe in which to live and suffer experience without breaking its Unity apart into duality. For it must become Consciousness on the one side, in order to know what and how to create, and Matter on the other, if it is to have material with which to create! So it must split its primal Oneness into a dualism which however is still subsumed under the unity. It becomes two in one or the One in two. The One has not become Two, but a twoness.

It virtually can’t create without throwing itself into the condition of being at a tension between two aspects of itself, on the strength of which tension it can exert its inchoate energies. It must therefore manifest itself as the two ends of a polarity, positive and negative. It must become polarized in relation to itself; and so it takes on the double-aspected characterization of spirit and matter, male and female, consciousness and vehicle, function and instrument, attraction and repulsion, visible and invisible, real and actual. Positively, like the proton of the atom, it must stand stably in the center, governing, holding, regulating the cyclical whirl of negative force about its eternal rock of durability. Negatively, like the electrons, it must revolve in the periodic swing of active life. It must provide the dual grounds for living existence, a conscious nucleus presiding at the heart of moving, changing embodiments. It must become, out of itself, subject, knowing, and object, to be known. Its entire purpose is obviously to arise out of unconscious slumber and become ever more awake and more concretely conscious. Since there is nothing of which it can be conscious save itself, the aim of Life is thus ever to become more Self-conscious! Therefore it must, so to speak, set itself as object over against itself as subject, and down the ages and the cycles ever thus contemplate itself. It is the seeing eye and the thing seen, as all profound esoteric philosophy asserts.

As Genesis puts it, God effected his creation, gazed upon it with gratification and pronounced it good. To see his creation he had to objectify, hypostasize, reify his thoughts, the radiations of his subjective aspect. For he creates by thoughts. He must see his ideas form in concretion before him, take on material body and come to visible manifestation for himself and his creatures.

So his expression proceeds from unity to duality, and from duality it runs further onward to infinite multiplicity. Multiple manifestation is achieved by the operation of a principle which is easily comprehended. As life has split into spirit and matter, the one mobile, the other inert, the unity of the mobile is broken up into multitude as it moves against the immobile. The lighter essence, spirit, is broken and divided as it moves outward against the resistance of matter. A suggestive illustration is the infinite division of a body of water dropped as one unit from a height as it falls against the resistance of the air. Its sheer motion and speed throws it apart. The circulation of the blood from the central heart, dividing endlessly till it reaches the periphery in numberless streamlets, is a similar reflection of the universal law. Outward bound, it divides; on the return it reunites! Life descends, “falls,” from the summit of its primal unity down into the arms of matter, dividing as it goes. Division is a logical necessity if it is to multiply itself, for unity can’t multiply out of itself without first dividing itself. And it can’t divide itself unless it falls or descends against resistance. The importance of this determination for clear grasp of basic theology can’t be overstressed. Angels “fall” by divine ordinance, and not by literal folly of rebellion against deity. Evolutionary gravity brings them down from heaven to earth.

The wind does not commonly blow a steady gale, but comes in rhythmic puffs. Creative impulse acts similarly. Every cycle of energization of the universe finishes its work in seven waves or impulses, and the sub-cycles have also seven waves. Life projects its formative energies outward, or matterward, in surge after surge. Each one carries the impulse as far as it will go under its original force, or until the wave is brought to a dead standstill by the inertia of matter, the carrying and resisting medium. Each propulsion of power comes to a stop, locked in the embrace of matter. In this embrace the capacities of the two nodes of being interplay, fecundate each other, generate a growth of new life, and build up what is termed a plane or level or kingdom of nature, with creatures embodying the type of life there engendered. Thus there are terrestrial and celestial worlds (as Paul says), noumenal and phenomenal realms, physical and ethereal planes, material and spiritual bodies, heavens, fairy-lands, underworlds, hells, limbos, Isles of the Blessed, Elysian Fields, the meadows of Aarru-Hetep and homes on high. And the beings on the ranges from high divinity down to man are the gods of ancient mythology.

The capacities of life on each level are expressed and given play by the organic beings built up thereon. Thus each kingdom has its own specific nature and determinations. But life is not static; it is generative, reproductive, forward-moving. It creates anew, in its turn, at its level, and passes the stream of creative force on down the line. Thus the succession of waves of projection runs down the scale, each one carrying the formative force one surge farther out. On and on it goes, establishing the kingdoms of nature and the living citizens on them. The contiguous planes form a link of connection from top to bottom of the series, and this is the golden chain of life. And each level bears a definite relation to its neighbor on either side.

The explication of this relationship involves a law that is basic for all evolution. Its statement will render understandable the constitution of man. It tells why he is a soul and a body linked together. It may be called the great Law of Incubation.

Under its terms each plane is mother to the life on the plane above it and father to that of the plane below it. It receives from above the seed germs of higher life and harbors them in the womb of its soil, or matter, gestates them and eventually gives them their new birth. This is the function of motherhood. And matter (Latin mater, mother) is the universal mother. But, having received from above, it also gives the impulse to the order below; and as giver it is active, aggressive, generative – the father function. Feminine to life above, masculine to life beneath, it is the link and bridge between two worlds.

But at each step of transmission the primal impulse suffers a diminution of its impetus, a weakening of its force, and in consequence a further and further fragmentation. The matter of each plane on the downward or involutionary track being more dense in atomic structure than that of its superior, the living bodies it provides can’t bear as heavy a life charge as the beings above can support, and the voltage of power must be stepped down if it is to be incorporated fittingly in the less capacious bodies of a lower kingdom. To effect this reduction in dynamism the bodies carrying the life of each plane act as electric transformers, changing a high current into numerous lesser currents to be accommodated to the lower carrying capabilities of bodies on the plane beneath. Hence the unit charge received from the plane above by each life structure on any place must, in falling one step further downward, be again broken up into a large number of fragments, each of which will become the energizing soul of a lower body. The Greek philosophers say in this connection that “the gods distribute divinity,” scattering its higher units abroad from plane to plane, the units multiplying in number, but diminishing in power, as the stream flows on. This is what ancient theology connotes by “the river of life.” The Orphic system speaks of “rivers of vivification,” which, they say, “proceed from on high as far as to the last of things,” or to the lowest stratum of the mineral kingdom. And as the gods distribute divinity, the secondary ranks in each case are said to “participate according to their capacity.” The gods pour out their life for the vivifying of all lower beings, and the latter partake of this bounty or “grace” to the measure of their receptivity. Nothing other than this is meant by the “shed blood” of the gods, given for the life of the worlds. All old theologies aver that the blood of the gods, or of God, mixed with the clay of earth, makes the “red earth” which is given as the etymological signification of Adam in Hebrew, i.e., man. Man is compounded of the red life-blood of deity and the dust of the ground, which in Hebrew is Adamah, purely the feminine or material aspect of Adam, spirit, itself. Deity mixed together spirit and matter to make man.

One more step in the analysis yields the final phase of the Law of Incubation. If life is to be propagated in eternal renewal, in multiplied individualization, it becomes necessary for any living creature on each plane to produce a multiple progeny of the seeds of its own life and “plant” or bury them in the soil of the kingdom immediately below it. There they go first to their “death,” after which they are reborn or resurrected in the sprouting of the seeds and their growth back to maturity. Each generation lives anew in its regeneration, but multiplied by as many times itself as the number of seeds it produced and successfully germinated in the plane below.

The vegetable buries its seeds in the soil of the kingdom beneath it, the mineral. The animal’s life is embodied in a corpus built up of vegetable material taken in each day as food. The human is rooted in an animal body. And now comes the pivotal fact in theology. The lowest ranks of gods, in their position just above humanity, must, by the Law of Incubation, send down their seeds, plant (incarnate) them in the bodies of humans, and win their next cyclical generation of divine life in that ground! Centuries of theological maundering have not told the millions of hungry sheep this plain truth as to why man nurtures a winged spirit of intelligence – a soul – in his physical body. The soul of man is in his body as a seed of divinity planted, buried, gone to its “death” in the soil of the human kingdom, and bears the same relation to that soil as does any seed to its bed. The greatest truth that can be told to mortals is that their bodies are each the gestating womb of a god. As said St. Paul, the Christ is being “formed within” each mortal body. Man has a soul because his physical human self is the nursery or breeding ground of the seeds of divinity. And man’s divinity is, or begins as, a seed. His duty is to cultivate the growth of that deific embryo. It is gestating in the womb of his physical body, and he must, as said Socrates, become a philosophic “midwife” and aid in its birth. Plato reports the Demiurgus in the notable speech to the legions of devas in the Timaeus as saying that “whatever is immortal and divine” in the human makeup, “of that I will furnish the seed and the beginning. It is your business to do the rest; to weave together mortal and immortal natures.” The upper plane furnishes the seeds of godhood, the lower furnishes the soil or garden. Divinity is planted in “the garden of the world.” It is the seminal soul of divine mind, destined to germinate and eventually blossom in the ground of humanity.

If, in sum, God is to multiply himself, his tree of life must reproduce on its branches a numerous progeny, each child bearing the potentiality of renewing the parent life in its fullness, and of carrying its eternal unfoldment one step ahead. As no living thing can subsist save as a result of a linking together of spirit and matter, a germinal unit of spirit must be incubated as the god in a body of material structure. This divine economy gives every creature its soul, which is its god. In the long chain of linked lives, from God down to mineral crystal, no being is deprived of its possibility of immediate communion with deity, up to the border of its capacity. But the “arm of the Lord” that is potent to bless and to save is within, not without. It is Emanuel, God with us, the hope of our glory. God is everywhere, within and without; but his son, the Christos, is only within. If he is not sought there, he will not be found. His inner presence is the provision of life that no entity should be bereft of instant contact with its parent god, who dwells on the plane just over its head, though rooted in its very body. Man’s deity is not a personage in a distant land and time, but, as an Eastern saga puts it, “closer is he than breathing, nearer than hands and feet.” No man can fail of touching his divinity, but failure of his knowledge that his deity is in himself may palsy his effort to arouse its latent faculties.

A legend of India tells of a council of the gods at which it was purposed to invest man with deity. A debate arose as to how it might be entrusted to him without his misusing it. One suggested that it be buried in the depths of the sea, so that he would not easily find and abuse it. Another advised placing it on the most inaccessible mountain top. Finally the supreme head of the assembly declared he had thought of a place where no man would ever think of looking for it, – in the deepmost chambers of man’s own heart!

The basal truth that every living thing is a union of spirit and matter, soul and body, was put in a graph by the Egyptians. It is perhaps the oldest and most meaningful of signs. The great symbol carried in the hands of the gods was the Ankh, or crux ansata (ansated cross), a “T” topped with the circle. The circle is the female symbol, the boundless infinite matter, the mother of all things in endless round. The vertical line is the male symbol, a ray of intelligence that goes out from the heart of the universe to impregnate the worlds. The horizontal line is the line of division between the two, at the point where they are joined. It is the cross-line between them. The word Ankh means three most significant things: love, life and tie. It is a formula of all life, signifying that life is the resultant of a tying together of two things, spirit and matter, by the force of an attraction, which is love.

The great doctrine of the “descent” or “fall” can now be clearly envisaged. Deity, in the form of its seed potency, must descend from its own plane into the soil of the plane below it and be incubated there. It must leave its own home, its father’s house, and go out into another country, where it will be an exile and a stranger. And like the youth going out from home into a rough world to make a fight of it under temptation and gross influences, he must undergo a long toilsome trial and testing and crucifixion to become an eventual victor and return with laurels. Said Jesus: “I came forth from the Father and am come into the world.”

Additional elucidation of basic meaning flows from the consideration of the great doctrine of the Trinity in theology. One is not too bold in asserting that this formula of ancient truth is not comprehended in its clear and profound significance by the Church which still blindly offers it. Once a year the pew occupants listen to a sermon on the Trinity, but go away unenlightened. Yet it is the heart of the mystery of life, the base of theology, and – easily comprehensible.

Plotinus, the Neo-Platonist of the third century, who gave the doctrine to Christianity through Augustine, has given us an analogy with a natural phenomenon by which it is possible, with the additional link of a finding of modern science, to see the simple meaning of a doctrine that has baffled comprehension for sixteen centuries. He said that we can understand how one deity can have three aspects if we think of the sun, its light and its active energy. The sun in heaven is comparable to the Father of the Trinity. It is a glowing globe of fire. The fire of the sun does not go forth into the ends of space, but abides at home. Like a match which you strike in a dark room, the fire stays on the match; it does not leave it. The fire stays’ but it generates and sends forth its son, – the light. This is the second aspect or “person.” It is of the same essence with the Father, yet not he. And the Psalmist sings: “Send out thy light”!

Now a flood of clear light is released on the problem by following the implications as to the identity of the third “person,” the Holy Spirit. But here it is necessary to adduce some pertinent data which is given to us by modern physical science to round out our analogy. We are told that a ray of the sun’s light out in the void of space (not near a planet) is inert. It is both cold and dark. If one could reduce one’s body to the size of a pin-point, one would be in total darkness and the intensest cold, though the sun be glaring overhead. The ray is impotent, inactive, uncreative and can generate no life until – and here is the nub of all philosophy – it falls upon a surface of a material body, a globe or planet! Only by incidence upon its opposite pole, matter, can the light of spirit come to its creative function. There is required the interplay of its rays with a resistant surface to bring out its own powers from latency to potency. Matter is, as already shown, the “mother” of life, while spirit (God) is its father. And, as everywhere, father spirit can’t become creative until it unites with and fecundates mother matter! His ray of power, his son, is in a sense the phallic emanation of his seed, and the seed must become coefficient with the unfructified egg of life in matter’s bosom to bring a new birth to pass. Almost it might be said, – here is all truth in a nutshell. The light of God would remain uncreative unless it entered the body or womb of mother life and aroused the slumbering potentialities therein. And here is the solution of a riddle of mythology which has baffled and horrified Christian moralists no end. The fables of the gods represent the son of deity as turning about and creating upon his own mother. Horus is called “the Bull of his Mother” – Isis. The sons of God marry their own mothers! Horrible! Detestable! shout the offended Church Fathers. Yet the son of present life marries and impregnates his own mother every time an acorn or grain of wheat falls into the ground and germinates! It is discernible at last why the letter H comes a second time into the form of the sacred tetragrammaton, or four-letter name of Jehovah, the Ineffable Name of ancient Kabalism – JHVH. “J” is the Father God, the line that comes down from on high, goes deep into the heart of matter and then turns upward to return to deity. The H represents by its two vertical lines life divided into its two aspects, spirit and matter, joined by the cross line, and so brings its activity into the realm of the mother, matter. The V is their son, who goes down in his turn into matter and returns. Now, why does the mother H come into the formula of creation a second time? The J H V would be a formula covering one – the first – generation of life. It would take it through one cycle. But that would not be a glyph that would represent life as perpetuating itself through endless cycles of renewal. It would end there. The graph must carry it on. As, then, the son must take up the line and become father in his turn, he must unite his productive fecundation with his old mother, matter. And so the H, or mother, must be brought into the picture once more. And the holy name becomes thus a descriptive form for all creation. For spirit is creatively helpless, like the sunlight, without the co-operation of its opposite, matter, which is dramatized as its wife and sister. Hence every mythological deity was linked with his shakti or spouse, his creative potency, without whom he would remain forever ungenerative. The implications of this determination are tremendous, for if spirit can’t give birth to its archetypal conceptions without the implementation of matter in actual creation, neither can it function apart from matter in philosophy! And a thousand fantastic “spiritual” cult systems that have deluded uncritical minds in every age by a denial of the utility of matter, are at one stroke given the coup de grâce as illogical fallacies. Reverting to the Trinity, it is desirable to go further with the Greek elaborators of the Orphic wisdom in delineating the aspects of divine activity.

Of the Father they assert that he “abides.” A Hindu script has the passage in which Lord Krishna says: “Having impregnated the universe with a portion of myself, I yet remain.” He remains on his own plane. He is the unmoved Mover and the uncaused Cause. He is without experience himself, delegating the function of acquiring it to his Son. He is unaffected, undivided, unchanging and undiminished.

Of the Son they say that he “proceeds.” He bears the Father’s potentialities out into all the universe. He is the radiating arm of his Father’s power. He goes out to do the will of his parent and become his vicegerent in the worlds. He becomes God’s spoken Word. He conveys the Logoic ideas out upon the bosom of his Father’s emanations to stamp them upon plastic matter. And proceeding from the bosom of the Father, he goes forth into every condition which is precisely the opposite of that of the Father. He will become subject to experience and suffer all things, while the Father abides unmoved. He will be affected, divided, changed and be sadly diminished, suffering the loss of all that he enjoyed with the Father. He will endure all experience in every kingdom, will be fragmented into “partial natures,” will enter a moving stream of endless change, and will be reduced to a minimum of his glory on the cross of suffering.

Of the Holy Spirit they say that it “converts” matter to its own likeness; “is converted” by matter to its next higher estate; and finally “returns.”

What, then, is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person? It is the first Ray of divine life, undergoing its final conversion into active creative agency. It is latent power of God’s mind, transformed into working efficacy. It is static divinity become kinetic. It is God’s Logos, or Word, carrying the command of his creative Voice, now converted into an energy that moves matter and builds worlds. It is, finally, God’s spirit at work; no longer static, or merely potential, but released upon matter in moving force – kinesis.

It may be helpful to present a diagrammatic sketch of this formulation, as it is a brief but complete graph of the entire rationale of all incarnation, or involution of life in matter, and its evolution back to spirit. It is thus a concise formula comprehending all that ancient scriptures have been designed to elucidate.

SUN ………….. FATHER ………. ABIDES.

LIGHT ………. SON …………….. PROCEEDS.

{{CONVERTS (Matter).

{{IS CONVERTED (By Matter).

EARTH ……… HOLY SPIRIT ..{

{

{ RETURNS

All “history” takes place at the point where the light, or latent radiation of divine force, comes in contact with matter, earth, the mother. For there involution is brought to a halt and, spirit being implanted within the heart of matter and awakening its slumbering potencies, there is begun at that point a new growth of life, actuated by the union of intelligence with sheer energy. And this new growth begins the evolutionary stage, or the return unto the father, or parent, status.

When Trinities are given as Father, Mother and Son, the aspect here characterized as the Holy Spirit is the “Son,” the product of the union of Father and Mother. When given as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Mother is implicit, being the material element necessary at all times.

The Son’s, or the ray’s, impregnation of Mother matter begins a new process of growth from seed to adulthood, which through a cycle of “conversion” and “being converted” lifts up the new form of Sonship of deity to the stage which the Father had reached in its last previous cycle. The cycle is completed with the “return”; but after aeonial rest life gets ready to make its next rhythmic movement outward to unite again with the Mother.

Having set forth in the most compact form the outline of the structure of ancient evolutionary knowledge, it is incumbent on us now to trace the origin and fix the place of every single doctrine of theology in the draft. It is requisite also that sufficient space be granted to present as much as is permissible of the vast body of data supporting each phase of the exegesis. The “descent” is the first feature of the chart that relates heavenly creation to earthly life, and is logically the first aspect of divine activity to be taken up. Its groundwork and presuppositions having been laid down, its presence in ancient religion must be demonstrated with sufficient fullness.

Chapter VII

COLONISTS FROM HEAVEN

To begin with there is that vast mass of Medieval legend that became focused in Milton’s grand epic. The tradition of man’s having lost a Paradise, having been cast out of heaven and thrown into a prison, a dungeon, a pit, a lake of pitch, a dark cavernous underground where suffering was intensified by fire, was almost universal in the background of theological belief over a long period. This wide possession might have remained highly instructive had not Milton, in common with all save isolated groups of Hermeticists in Europe, lost in signal knowledge that the fallen angels, the rebel hosts, the armies of Satan-Lucifer were, collectively, man himself, and that the fiery lake into which they were hurled was just our good earth! This tradition was the far-trailing descendant of the ancient Mysteries, in which the entire drama of man’s evolution was enacted at the great annual festivals. Says Thomas Taylor, perhaps the most understanding of all Plato’s interpreters:

“I now proceed to prove that the dramatic spectacles of the Lesser Mysteries were designed by the ancient theologists, their founders, to signify occultly the condition of the unpurified soul invested with the earthly body, and enveloped in a material and physical nature: . . .”1

Cocker in his Greek Philosophy says that Plato in the Phaedrus, under the allegory of the chariot and the winged steeds, represents the lower or inferior part of man’s nature as dragging the soul down to earth and subjecting it to a slavery under corporeal conditions. Taylor says 2 that “the descent of the superior intellect3 into the realms of generated existence becomes, indeed, the greatest benefit and ornament which a material nature is capable of receiving; for without this participation of intellect in the lowest department of corporeal life, nothing but the irrational soul and a brutal life would subsist in the dark and fluctuating abode of the body.” The whole design of the Mysteries, according to the great Plato himself, was “to lead us back to the perfection from which, as our beginning, we first made our descent.” One of the mysterious significations of the Thyrsus or reed used in the Mysteries was connected with the descent of the soul, for, “as it was a reed full of knots,” it became “an apt symbol of the diffusion of the higher nature into the sensible world.” Bacchus (the divine self) carried a reed instead of a scepter, and it betokened the god’s “descent into our partial nature.” “Indeed the Titans are Thyrsus-bearers; and Prometheus concealed fire in a Thyrsus or reed; after which he is considered as bringing celestial light into generation, or leading the soul into the body.”

The Greeks allegorized the descent of the soul again in the fable of Ceres and Proserpine. Ceres is the higher intellect, Proserpina being her daughter, the soul. Edward Carpenter says” that there were ritual dramas or passion plays [in the Mysteries], of which an important one dealt with the descent of Kore or Proserpine into the underworld, as in the Eleusinian representations, and her redemption and restoration to the upper world in spring.”4

No less applicable to the same fundamental situation is the Greek fable of Eros and Psyche. Love, the divine Eros, descends into the mortal sphere to redeem the human soul, or Psyche, from suffering in its animal habitat by marrying her. In the Mystery celebrations lasting nine days, Taylor tells us that on the eighth day the “fall of the soul into the lunar orb” was commemorated, “because the soul in this situation is about to bid adieu to everything of a celestial nature; to sink into a perfect oblivion of her divine origin and pristine felicity; and to rush profoundly into the region of dissimilitude, ignorance and error. And lastly, on the ninth day, when the soul falls into the sublunary world and becomes united with a terrestrial body, a libation was performed such as is usual in the sacred rites.”5

Proclus, the great Neo-Platonist of the fourth century, expounding Plato’s theology, says that it is the peculiar function of “heroic souls” (an order above daemons) to express “magnitude of operation, elevation and magnificence,” but that this order “descends indeed for the benefit of the life of man, as partaking of a destiny inclining downwards.”6 Iamblicus corroborates Plato as to these grades of the hierarchy:

“Angles above dissolve the bonds of generation. Daemons draw souls down into nature; but heroes lead them to a providential attention to sensible works.”7

Iamblichus makes an unequivocal statement of the descent when he says:

“But from the first, divinity sent souls hither in order that they might again return to him.”8

He reiterates the idea (p. 68) when speaking of the gods:

“These, therefore, descend with invariable sameness for the salvation of the universe, and connectedly contain the whole of generation after the same manner.”

He utters a strange sentiment when he affirms (p. 89) that the “magnitude of the epiphanies [or manifestations] in the Gods, indeed, is so great as sometimes to conceal all heaven, the sun and the moon; and the earth itself, as the Gods descend, is no longer able to stand still.”

Greek philosophy, as we have seen, embodies the traditions of the descent in several molds. In the cycle of the twelve mystic operations of Hercules, the hero is ordered to go down into Hades (our world) and bring up the three-headed Cerberus. His journey is a symbolic tracing of the experiences undergone by the soul on earth, not in some mysterious underworld below it. Orpheus descends to the underworld to recover his lost Eurydice, the soul. In Virgil’s epic Aeneas finds the gate to Avernus and descends for the inspection of the Tartarian regions. It is instructive to note the etymology of this word “Avernus.” It is the Greek ornos, a bird, and alpha (@insert greek alpha) privative, meaning “un-” or “not” or “-less.” The “v” is thrown in for euphony between the two vowels, and the “o” is shortened to “e.” It would therefore read “not birds” or “no birds,” with the implication of “not a good place for birds.” When it is known that in all arcane systems the bird was the universal symbol for the soul, the meaning comes clear that this earth was regarded as the place where souls were poisoned by the noxious fumes arising from the carnal life, since the birds were lethalized by the vapor rising from the mouth of the pit of Avernus, became stupe- fied and fell into the underworld. The allegory tells the story of our descent with a force that no philosophical descanting could match. So deftly has ancient philological skill woven a theosophical meaning into the structure of language.

Dante’s tour of Purgatory and the deeper Inferno is a treatment of the old myth, with political and other connotations. Ulysses’ visit to the cave of Polyphemus is again a form of the representation, and Theseus and his labyrinthine adventure underground is another rendering of it. From Herodotus we have an account (II, 122) of the descent into Hades of King Rhampsinitus, in whose honor the priests of Egypt instituted a rebirth festival. The Rig Veda parallels this story with an account of the boy Nachiketas, who descended into the realm of Yama, the deity of the earthly underworld, in Yama-Loka, the kingdom of the dead, and then returned to the world of life. Needless to say, neither Egyptians nor Hindus took their theological myths for history.

A number of utterances in the Chaldean Oracles point to a quite complete harmony with Orphic Platonism and Neo-Platonism. Indeed opinion veers strongly to the conclusion that Pythagorean, Platonic and Greek philosophy generally was formulated out of the principles of theology promulgated through the powerful agency of the Orphic Mysteries, and that those principles were brought by the Orphics into Greece from Chaldean sources. The Oracles agree with Greek doctrine that higher deific energies emanated outward from a spiritual focus into the material worlds. One of them runs: “For all things thence begin to extend their admirable rays downwards.” The life of the gods rays outward into corporeal beings and becomes the animating principle or soul of living things.

A passage from the Tibetan Book of the Dead (p. 130) warns devotees to “be not attracted towards the dull blue light of the brute world,” under penalty of falling into that kingdom of nature. It asserts (p. 125) that the predilection of our immortal nature toward animal grossness will cause it to “stray downwards.” The text represents the human soul as beseeching the “Knowledge-Holding Deities” not to let it drift further down, but to lead it to the holy paradise. The soul exults that “These Knowledge-Holding Deities, the Heroes and the Dakinis have come from the holy paradise realms to receive me.” The text traces the descent of these divinities who, false to their oaths, fall from lower to still lower stages of the Bardo, or world of dark embodiment.

A cuneiform tablet in the British Museum holds a legend of the rebellious angels who broke into the Lord’s song with impious shouts, destroying the harmony, and who, for punishment, were cast down out of heaven. They are referred to in the Book of Jude (Ch. 6) in the line: “They kept not their own habitations.” These in the Book of Enoch are the seven stars which “transgressed the commandment of God and came not in their proper season” (Enoch 18, 21, 22). It is said in the cuneiform text, “May the God of divine speech expel from his five thousand those who in the midst of his heavenly song shouted evil blasphemies.”

Of tremendous significance to the thesis that early Christian doctrine was intimately allied with and influenced by the prevalent esoteric wisdom of environing cults, is a fragment called the Naasene Hymn, preserved by Hippolytus (Haer. V. 5). After describing the woes and sufferings of the human soul during its wanderings on earth, the hymn continues:

But Jesus said: Father, Behold

A war of evils has arisen upon earth;

It comes from thy breath and ever works;

Man strives to shun this bitter chaos,

But knows not how he may pass (safely) through it;

Therefore, do thou, O Father, send me;

Bearing thy seals I will descend (to earth);

Throughout the ages I will pass;

All mysteries I will unfold,

All forms of Godhead I will unveil,

All secrets of thy holy path

Styled Gnosis (knowledge) I will impart (to man).

The Jesus character alluded to here is, it seems certain, the Gnostic Jesus, or Ieou, whom we shall see is traceable to Egyptian origins many centuries B.C. Scholars will haggle over the question of the date of the hymn, whether A.D. or B.C. The possibility that it dates B.C. has already been repudiated with great speciousness.9 The name Naasene, of apparently Ophite connection, seems to have etymological relation to both the names of Essene and Nazarene. If an Essene production it could readily be given a B.C. placing without violent improbability. There is evidence that cults of Nazarenes (Nazaraioi) teaching Egypto-Gnostic Christolatry antedated the coming of the Gospel Jesus. The Ophites (serpent-symbolizers, not serpent-worshipers) were a Gnostic sect of early Christianity, later persecuted as heretics, who believed in a spiritual Christ-Aeon that descended into the material chaos to assist Sophia (Wisdom) in her efforts to emancipate the soul from the bondage of the flesh.

Turning to the material of Egypt we find the descent traced unmistakably in a thousand references. The conception is so pervading that all three persons of the Egyptian Trinity, Isis, Osiris and Horus, are represented as descending to the nether earth. Osiris, the Father God, descends, is cut to pieces by Sut (Satan) and the fragments of his body scattered over the earth. Isis, the Mother, descends to earth to search for the fragments. Horus, the Son, comes down in the identical character as the Christian Jesus in the advent at Christmas as the bringer of peace. As Jesus descends into hell (Apostles’ Creed), so Horus came from heaven into the realm of darkness as the light of the world. It is said that he descends into the funeral land, the abode of darkness and of death. The Speaker in the Egyptian Ritual (representing always the human soul) says: “I have come upon this earth, and I take possession of it with my two feet.” It is said that Osiris goes down into Tattu (another name for Amenta) and finds there the soul of the sun, and is united thereto. The Manes (again the human soul) says: “I am he that cometh forth by day . . . I descend upon earth and mine eye maketh me to walk thereon.” It is said of him: “Thou enterest in to the place where thy Father is, where Keb [Seb, the god of earth] is.” Again: “Thou descendest under protection. Ra ferries thee to Amenta.” In the Ritual (The Book of the Dead) it is said: “This is he who in his resurrection says, ‘I am the Lord on high and I descend to the earth of Seb that I may put a stop to evil.’”

Such references to the advent of divinity in the scripts of Egypt could be multiplied to great length. Likewise the religious lore of scores of aboriginal tribes in all continents hold multitudinous corroboration of the fact and confirm its status as the basic datum of all religious construction. A hundred folk-tales begin with the coming of some hero from heaven to earth, or with the flinging down of some object em- blematic of divinity. The variety of symbols used is wide, and to one lacking the keys of interpretation, bewildering. It is enough to say that in all such legends the idea of the descent is central.

Looking now at the Christian Bible we shall find in plenty the features of the same myth. Bible students are not generally aware of the directness with which the descent of the gods to earth is there told. There is first the well-known declaration of God himself (distorted into a reference to the historical Jesus) that he sent his only-begotten son into the world that all believers might have everlasting life. Then there is the remarkable pronouncement in the Gospel of John (3): “No man ascendeth into heaven but he that cometh down from heaven.” From Luke (19:10) we have: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” Then there is Jesus’ direct statement to his disciples: “Ye are from beneath; I am from above.” The Lord’s affirmation that he laid down his life for his sheep surely means not that he was immolated on a wooden cross, but that he resigned his celestial life to endure the burden of the cross (of flesh and matter). The Apocalyptist’s vision of the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven is a reference to the descent of divinity in its fragmented form. The line that follows – “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them . . . and God himself shall be with them and he shall be their God” (Rev. 21:1), is to the same effect. Jesus declares that he came from the Father into the earth.

Lifting from the term Christos the Christian limitation of its personification in the body of the historical Jesus, and reading for this distorted meaning the idea of the gods incarnated distributively in all men, it is possible to discern allusions to the descent all through the Bible. Though not so immediately obvious, the Lukan account which states that Jesus came down from the mount and “stood on a level place” (Ch. 6:17) before he delivered the Sermon, is another indirect allusion to the same fact. For the Pistis Sophia, the Gnostic Gospel, states that Jesus preached his discourse to his disciples “in the midst of Amenta”! Later comparison of many texts discloses the surprising fact that both the mount and the level plain, whereon the Sermon was delivered in the Gospels, are diverse forms of the same symbolism! Both refer to our earth, under the terms of equinoctial symbolism. The “mount” in the mythos was never in any sense an earthly elevation. Paul in one passage propounds the logical problem, which should have been given consideration, analogically, by our scientists, – how we can envisage the resurrection without the postulation of a previous descent from heaven. He asks (Ephesians 4:9): “Now he that ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all heavens. . . .” The pertinence of this material for science is that science has studied life as in evolution without having postulated a necessary involution antecedently! Science must meet Paul’s significant query. Likewise must theology restore to its high place the doctrine of the descent.

Symbolizing the divine nature as bread for man, John gives Jesus’ announcement of his descent (6:47, 48) : “I am the bread of life . . . such is the bread that came down from heaven, that a man shall eat of it and shall not die.” The general allegorism of scattering or sowing seed is employed to depict the Platonic “distribution of divinity” among men. In the parable of the sower we have a portraiture of the partitive incarnation of divine natures in mortal bodies. The falling of the seed into various types of soil is a natural version of the diversified embodiments the descending souls might have apportioned to them. This interpretation raises the parable to infinite heights of dignity and meaning above the feeble and ineffective rendering of uncomprehending thought, which is able to see in the figured situation nothing higher than the sowing of the “word,” that is, the Sabbath droning from pulpits, impinging upon different grades of mental acumen or moral character! The “Word” is in no case the written Bible, even, but the Logos, or form of divine ideation, powerfully stamped upon the physical universe by the deific utterance. No student is in position to grasp the significance of the Logos doctrine until he has mastered the principles of Platonic theology, as outlined by Proclus10 or Plotinus. Christian interpretation has merely shuffled along in the darkness without a light. “Like the streams in the circle of heaven I besprinkle the seeds of men,” runs a text in the Records of the Past (Vol. III, 129).

The angels in Revelation pour out the contents of their censers over the earth, granting a nucleus of solar “fire” to each mortal to divinize him. As the Timaeus of Plato reports, the deity was to furnish the collective seed of what was to be immortal in humanity.

In Old Testament allegorism the doctrine is found most unexpectedly to be the core of meaning in the Abraham story. Like the Prodigal Son of the New Testament he was sent out from his home, country and kinsfolk (in the heavenly Eden) to go to a strange land (incidentally to the West, where was the Tuat, or gate of entry to the earth!). There his seed was to multiply until it filled the earth with his children, the heirs of supernal grace.

But the hidden sense of the name Abraham or Abram has escaped notice, and it is of great moment, as are all Bible names. Scholars may protest, but it seems obvious that the word is simply A-Brahm, (Hindu), meaning “non-Brahm.” Abraham, the Patriarch or oldest of the aeons or emanations, was not Brahm, the Absolute, but the first emanation from Brahm; the first ray, the first God, perhaps equivalent to Ishwara of the Hindus. He was the first life that was not Absolute, yet from the Absolute. He was to go forth into the realms of matter, divide and multiply, and fill the world with his fragmented units. To return to Abraham’s bosom would be just to complete the cycle of outgoing and return, to rest in the bosom of the highest divinity close to the Absolute. Also he came out of Ur, of the Chaldees (or Kasadim), which is another key word, since Ur is the Chaldean word for “fire,” the celestial empyrean, out of which all souls, as fiery sparks, are emanated. Kasadim, or Kasdim, was a term given to the highest celestial spirits, who fathered the production of the divine sparks of soul. It is practically equivalent to “Archangels.”

Then Abraham went straight to Egypt from the land of Canaan, and his descendants were to suffer bondage in that lower country. It is a crushing blow to the historical rendering of Bible narrative to declare, on evidence that is incontrovertible, that the “Egypt” of the scriptures is not the country on the map. It is the term used in the allegories to designate the plane, state or “land” of embodied life, life on earth. “Egypt” is just this earth, or the state or locale of bodily life on it. It even at times connotes the physical body itself, as in “the flesh pots of Egypt.” Hence the descent of Abraham, and later of the twelve sons of Jacob, into “Egypt” are again the fable of the soul’s adventure here. If the term Egypt is taken as the geographical unit, many passages in which it occurs will be found to read as sheer nonsense. Had theology known that “the strange land” and “the far country” were glyphs for this earth of ours, greater sanity would have marked the counsels of ecclesiasticism down the centuries. If the “bondage in Egypt, that slave pen,” as the Eternal repeatedly calls it (in the Moffatt translation), has been in some way interlocked with an historical servitude (as may have been the case), it still does not prove that the allegory intended to recount the bondage of a nation. It was a bondage of spirit under sense that was thus portrayed. Many passages from the Old Testament books refer to the Israelites as captives, outcasts, expatriates and exiles, matching Greek, Egyptian and Gnostic terminology, and alluding of course to the expulsion of the angelic hosts from a celestial Paradise to a bleak earthly exile. The sons of God had to go to Egypt also in order that fulfillment might be given to the hoary scriptural line from the Mystery drama: “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” For resurgent deity in the wandering exiles would eventually lead them back to their home on high.

In Luke (10:18) Jesus says that he “beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” As Satan is identical with Lucifer, the bringer of deific light, or the god (collectively), and the hosts of angelic souls (distributively), Jesus’ utterance is readily seen as another affirmation of the descent of the spiritual principle, eternally symboled by “fire” from heaven. Again, in the resurrection scene “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven.” Once more this is not a fragment of veridical history, but another brief figuration of the descent. In an Egypto-Gnostic fragment the same ideograph is repeated under the double representation,11 when “the heavens opened and two men descended thence with great radiance,” and both the young men entered the tomb. The seer in Revelation descries an angel in flight toward the earth and also sees the holy city of Zion, radiant with the glory of God, descending from the skies.

One of the Old Testament allegories has to do with the Lord’s reminding Israel that he had “opened the doors of heaven” and “rained down manna upon them to eat.” As bread is the Johannine symbol of divine nature on which the mortal race was to feed, so manna in the Mosaic narrative stands in the same usage. There is reason also to suppose that manna is cognate by derivation with the Sanskrit “manas,” the principle of intelligence, which was the gift of deity to “man.” Its distribution over the ground in a thin layer like frost and glistening white is a symbolism of the spirit, which comes to us in the form of a distillation over the ground of our concrete experience out of the brood- ing atmosphere of divine super-intelligence. And all deity is described as shining with radiance.

A frequent figure for the descending spirits of light is the falling star. In the Egyptian Records of the Past (Vol. II, p. 16) the Speaker says: “The place is empty into which the starry ones fall down headlong upon their faces and find nothing by which they can raise themselves up.” In the same thought the Chinese have a venerable proverb which runs: “The stars ceased shining in heaven and fell upon earth, where they became men.” That the star as an emblem of the divine soul is not altogether a sheer poetic fancy, is shown by the fact that, as Massey points out,

“The Elementaries or brute forces of nature may be said to have obtained their souls in the stars. Hence, as Plutarch says, the Dog-Star is the soul of Isis, Orion is the soul of Horus, and the Bear is the soul of Typhon, – Soul and Star being synonymous in the Egyptian word Seb.”12

In one of the addresses to King Pepi it is said to him: “Thy soul is a living star at the head of his brethren.”13 In the texts of Egypt the evil crocodile, typifying Paul’s “carnal nature,” is said to swallow the sinking stars,” the souls that fall into the darkness of incarnation. Among the ancients the stars that dipped beneath the horizon were emblematic of souls in physical incarnation, in contradistinction to those that never set, which typed the non-incarnating gods. Souls in incarnation were dubbed by the Greeks “moist souls,” since they were immersed in the body, which is seven-eighths water by composition. The redeemed souls rejoiced in the Egyptian Ritual (Ch. 44) at being lifted up “among the stars that never set.” Those condemned to descend were represented as falling stars in danger of being devoured by the open jaws of the dragon (of mortal life). This reptile lurked in the “bight of Amenta” or the bend of the river “where the starry procession dipped down below the horizon.” The Swabian “Lindwurm” was another form of the dragon that “swallowed the setting stars.” Indeed the entire myth of the casting down of Saturn and his hosts was figured under the symbolism of falling stars. The dragon that “made war with the woman drew down into his kingdom many of the stars of heaven.” One of the phenomena of the Crucifixion mentioned in Revelation along with the darkness over the earth, the veiled sun, the blood-stained moon, is that “the stars from the heavens fell.” In the same place we read that “when the message of the third angel was sounded forth, a great star went down from heaven and it fell upon the earth.” Another star fell at the sounding of the trumpet of the firth angel. The various legends, then, of falling stars become invested with unexpected significance as being disguised allusions to the descent of the angelic myriads to our shores, – to become our souls.

But nowhere is the statement of the descent of soul made more explicitly than in the very Creed of the Christian Church, wherein the second person of the Trinity is described as he “who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven . . . and was made man.” Our material will show that the idea was common to many early nations, in whose literature it is stated with more definiteness than in the Christian.

If the descent was in partial degree a karmic punishment for sin, an enforced expiation of evolutionary dereliction in past cycles, as is hinted in Greek philosophy, it was also pictured as a seeking of refuge or a hiding for safety. Some contingency or crisis in celestial affairs, not fully divulged, made it both obligatory and advantageous for the angel hosts to flee heaven and find on earth, or in “Egypt,” an escape from danger involved in some evolutionary impasse. It is not customary to think of hell as a haven, but certain implications in the old theology require us to do just that. At all events the legend of the hiding away of the young divine heroes is too general to be without deep significance. Adam hid himself when the Eternal walked in the garden. Moses as an infant was hidden in the papyrus swamps of “Egypt”; later he was hidden by the Eternal in a cleft of the rock as the majesty of the Lord swept by. Jonah ran and hid from the Eternal when first commanded to execute a mission to the Ninevites. The child Jesus had to be hidden away from danger in “Egypt”! The Old Testament Joseph went down to “Egypt” to be saved from danger. Jotham preserved his life from his murderous brother Abimelech by hiding. Saul was found in hiding among the baggage when he was chosen to be king in Israel. In Egypt, Buto, the nurse, concealed Horus, the analogue of Jesus, in Sekhem, “the hidden shrine and shut place,” – our earth. Horus’ birth was in a secret place. A similar legend is related of the mythical Sargon in the cuneiform tablets. He says: “My mother, the Princess, conceived me; in a secret place she brought me forth.” The supreme Egyptian Sun-God, the mighty spiritual divinity Ra, says to the earth: “I have hidden you.”14 He says that in the “Egypt” of this lower world he had prepared a secret and mysterious dwelling for his children. This divine dwelling created by Ra as the place of protection for the elect, is called “the Retreat.” Amen, an aspect of Ra, was termed “The Master of the Hidden Spheres”; and Amen itself means “the hidden god.” In the Ritual (Ch. 22) Osiris cries: “I rise out of the egg in the hidden land.” Under another name, Qem-Ur, he addresses the earth (Aukert, the underworld) as the land “which hidest thy companion who is in thee.” The god again speaks of “hiding himself to cast light upon his hidden place.” This is the typical Lucifer character of the descending god, the Light-Bringer. He hides himself in order, it is said, to perform there the “mysteries of the underworld.” “These things shall be done secretly in the underworld.” (Rubric to Ch. 137A of the Ritual.) Under the title of Unas he “gathers together his members which are in the hidden place.” He says that he has “made Horus enter into the Hidden Shrine to vivify the heart of the god.”

It is desirable to search a little more closely for the rationale of this hiding in the secret place of earth, as the bases of the whole theological situation are involved in this dark background. Two causes can be assigned for the descent, a normal evolutionary one, and another rising out of the motives for karmic punishment for error, stubbornness, pride or wrong. As to the first, the Greeks postulated the Cycle of Necessity, which required that all souls or fragments of divine being must pass through the round of all the elements, in order to embody in their finished perfection the qualities of every modification of life. The second cause is less philosophically rationalized and – hints are given us – grew out of a special situation involving the recalcitrant behavior of twelve legions of angels, who, in retribution for evolutionary irregularities on their part, were forced into an earthly incarnation distasteful to them. In the character of King Teta, Osiris is made to say: “This Teta hath detestation of the earth, and he will not enter into Seb” (god of earth). There are also references to the anger of the higher gods, enkindled against them. Plato (Phaedrus) speaks of those souls who were “subject through the ancient indignation of the Gods in consequence of former guilt” to severe penalties on earth. In the Cratylus he concurs with the doctrine of the Orphics that the soul is punished through its union with body. Iamblicus (Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 133) states that a partial motive in the celebration of the Mysteries of Sabazius was the appeasing of “the ancient divine anger.” Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, III) preserves a passage from a celebrated Pythagorean, Philolaus, which runs: “The ancient theologists and priests also testify that the soul is united with body as if for the sake of punishment.” The Book of Enoch points to a motive for this punishment in that the deities “came not in their proper season.” It is given that they were ordered to incarnate at an earlier period, when the bodies of the animal race were of a requisite preparedness to receive the principle of intelligence, but that they refused and in consequence were forced to descend much later, when the animal vehicles were far gone in a state of degeneracy. Proclus in his Hymn to Minerva prays to the goddess:

“Nor let these horrid punishments be mine,

Which guilty souls in Tartarus confine,

With fetters fastened to its broken floors,

And locked by hell’s tremendous iron doors.”

Dante in the Inferno alludes to the souls in bondage:

“Hither for failure of their vows exiled.”

There is ground for connecting all this allusion to the penal character of our adventure on earth with the oft-cited “rebellion of the angels.” Theological students should be more familiar with Plato’s version of the Demiurgic speech to the hosts about to incarnate, the “junior gods,” in the Timaeus. The Creator covenants with them to insure their immortality, to support them with his power; and then charge them to come to earth and “weave together mortal and immortal natures.” It is said they rebelled, procrastinated and, when finally forced to descend by virtue of karma, missed the crest of a wave of evolution that would have carried them more smoothly forward past a crucial point. As it eventuated, their delay brought them to the earth when the lower race they were to uplift had sunk back into brutal degradation, and their penal infliction became the greater by the enhanced grossness of the bodies they were to inhabit. Their proper season had passed, as say Jude and Enoch.

Strangely we find in an old Egyptian inscription called “The De- struction of Mankind” a parallel to this somewhat anomalous situation in Platonic systematism. There is a rebellion against Ra, the Sun-God, followed by a great destruction and a deluge. Atum-Ra had been established as the king of gods and men, the God alone. There is a revolt against his supremacy. He calls the elder gods around him for consultation and says to them:

“You ancient gods, behold the beings who are born of myself; they utter words against me. Tell me, what would you do in these circumstances? Behold, I have waited and I have not destroyed them until I should hear what you have to say.”15

The elder gods advise that he permit them to go and smite the enemies who plot evil against Ra, and let none remain alive. The rebels are then destroyed by being cast down for three days. Here is the distinct clue to true meaning, for the three days are a glyph for the time spent by evolutionary consciousness in the three lower kingdoms beneath man, the mineral, vegetable and animal. And “destruction” in this usage can’t be taken as equivalent to actual annihilation or extirpation. This latter point is an extremely important one, as it saves many a Biblical allegory from utter perversion of meaning. After the exaction of the penalty, the “majesty of Ra” declares that he will now protect men on this account. “I raise my hand (in token) that I shall not again destroy men.” The similarity of this description to more than a score of such narratives of the almighty anger against “a stiff-necked and rebellious people,” their being cast out from celestial court and favor, and the eventual divine relenting and restoration of them to his providential care, must strike any fair-minded student who has read the Old Testament.

It is charged that Job, when cause is sought for his trial, had added “rebellion unto his sin.”16 It does not seem to be well known that the Old Testament contains an account of the “rebellion of the angels” in the guise of alleged Hebrew history. It is the rebellion of the “Sons of Korah,” given in the Mosaic books, and recalled to the attention of the Israelites several times by the Eternal. It is told that at the rebellion the Lord caused the earth to open and swallow them up. It should be noticed that they were engulfed by the earth. It is known that two different groups of Psalms, thirteen to forty-nine, and eighty-four to eighty-eight, are specialized as “Psalms of the Sons of Korah.” It is to be remarked as significant also that while swallowed up by earth, they were not destroyed! The rebel hosts, cast out of heaven, were not annihilated! What can this mean but that the term “destruction” is purely a glyph for the enforced descent to earth? Here they could expiate their contumely by sojourning in the untoward conditions of animal embodiment. Milton in the Paradise Lost, expresses Adam’s surprise to find that his sentence of “death” for disobedience is a long, living death, not extinction. The account of the Korahitic rebellion expressly states that they were swallowed alive.

Happily Chaldean as well as Hindu records reaffirm the correctness of our interpretation, for Massey says:

“The Chaldean and Hindu legends know nothing of a human sin as a cause of the deluge. The sin against the gods, however, is described as the cause of the deluge in the so-called ‘destruction of men.’ . . . But these beings in the case were elemental, not mortal, and the sin was not human.”17

This is quite important. The beings were pre-human and angelic, not elemental in the theological sense. Their rebellion, in short, occurred in heaven, not on earth, though indeed it has been prolonged into the earthly life. They carried their rebellious attitude down with them and exhibit phases of it to the present!

An Egyptian text says of the god Anhur that he had seen the malice of these gods who “deserted their allegiance to raise a rebellion,” and “he refused to go forth with them.” Other texts contain references to “the children of impotent revolt,” and tell of their “inroad into the Eastern part of heaven, whereupon there arose a battle in heaven and in all the earth.” And another passage alludes to the “carrying out of the sentence upon those who are to die,” and says it is “the withholding of that which is so needful to the souls of the children of impotent revolt.” The meaning here is obviously their expatriation and consequent cutting off from participation in the life of their celestial estate.

In general summary of this point, it may be said that the implications and the moral of these traditions of rebellious and outcast angels are these: our divine souls (for we are those rebellious deities) fled under karmic pressure from heaven to earth, and we have carried the same refractoriness down in our racial history. We refused at first to incarnate in the animal forms, and we still are rebellious in our refusal to take full charge and assume complete mastery over the “animal” segment of our composite nature. Hence the frequent injunctions in old scriptures to “kill out” the lower elements in us, and such a statement as that in the Egyptian text of Unas to “slay the rebel” in consummating our work of redemption.18 Angels indeed were despatched to this realm, and their presence in the human constitution accounts for the divine element apostrophized in all religion. In the Epistle to the Hebrews (1:14) it is asked: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who should be heirs of salvation?”

The next step in the unfoldment of the theme is to establish beyond dispute that it was to our earth that the descent was made. This is tremendously vital to true interpretation.

In Egyptian scriptures we encounter the promise that “if Pepi falleth on to the earth, Keb [Seb] will lift him up.” Pepi here stands for the divinity in man, the god come to earth. To him in another place it is said: “Thou plowest the earth . . . Thou journeyest on the road whereon the gods journeyed.” Here is identification of the earth as the place to which the gods were sent to travel the road of evolution.

One of the most conclusive statements of this fact in Christian scriptures is that memorable passage in Revelation (12:7-9), where we have a succinct rehearsal of the “war in heaven” and the casting down of the angel hosts in the character of Satan, as the dragon or serpent.

“There was war in heaven. Michael and his angels went forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels; and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast down into the earth and his angels were cast out with him.”

It is of prime interest to note that the war in heaven was continued on earth, as has been intimated before. For after the dragon had been cast down to earth, he “waxed wroth with the woman and went away to make war with the rest of her seed.”

This can be seen as the confirmation of the narrative in Genesis, wherein the Lord swore to place enmity between the serpent, or dragon, and the seed of the woman.

In the Egyptian Ritual, in the “chapter by which one cometh forth by day,” the spirit of the descending god pleads: “Let me have possession of all things soever which were offered ritualistically for me in the nether world. Let me have possession of the table of offerings which was heaped up for me on earth.” He asks “that he may feed upon the bread of Seb [the earth god] or the food of earth.” Proceeding he urges: “Let the Tuat be opened for me. Here am I.”

This is an announcement of his advent upon earth, for the Tuat is the gate of entrance to Amenta. He is coming to this world to feed upon that type of concrete experience which the conditions here alone afford, under the name of “the bread of Seb.” Later, following his resurrection, he says: “The tunnels of earth have given me birth.” “I rise as a god among men,” he exclaims. If there are men elsewhere than on earth, they are not those referred to in the old scriptures. He is described again as “Thou who givest light to the earth” (Rit., Ch. 15). Again he says: “I come that I may overthrow my adversaries upon earth.” It is on earth that his opposition is to be met and hither he must come to conquer it, for his undeveloped divinity must grow by overcoming opposition. He is spoken of again as “he who has caused the authority of his father to be recognized in the great dwelling of Seb,” – earth. Another passage (Ch. 64) describes the lower self in man as saying: “I draw near to the god whose words were heard by me in the lower earth.” As the god-soul descends he says: “My body shall be established and it shall neither fall into decay nor be destroyed upon this earth.” His mission to earth is proclaimed as being to “vivify every human being that walketh upon the regions which are upon the earth.” In another place we have a combined reference to the earth both as the “hidden place” and as the globe where the young gods came to progress. It is said of Isis that “she suckled the child in solitariness, and none knew where his place was, and he grew in strength and his arm increased in strength in the house of Keb,” or the earth. Egypt will offer us in later connections a superabundance of testimony to the thesis under discussion, the relevance of which can’t be so well appreciated until other phases of the mundane journey of the god can be presented. The localization of the place where the gods fell when ejected from heaven in the mythos as being our earth is one of the three or four major postulates of the ancient theology which this work is undertaken to establish, and its implications must alter all religious construction drastically. The point was once known, but was obscured by ignorant handling of the Gnosis and was lost. It is almost unthinkable that it could have met such a fate when the Church had constantly before its eyes the legend of Christmas, with its clear imputation of the incarnation of the children of spiritual skies on earth. But the distributive nature of the Christhood had been submerged, and the tradition of the fall of the angels had been wrenched out of all relation to the Nativity at the winter solstice.

The passage in Revelation (22:16) that has left theological thought in such deep obscurity, may find acceptable rendition of its meaning in the light of the thesis of the descent: “I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” To apprehend the statement clearly we are required to read the name “Jesus” in the light of its Gnostic meaning as an Aeon, or emanation of divine spirit, an interpretation that is not at odds with its usage in the Book of Revelation. Students have been impressed with the evident resemblance of the Apocalypse to Gnostic literature, and one writer has ventured the opinion that it could have been written only by a Platonist versed in Mystery and Magian symbology. It bears quite pointed resemblances to such a Hermetic book as the Enoch. The Jesus referred to in it obviously has no identic relation to the Jesus personalized in the Gospels. His figure here is of cosmic proportions and equates the stature of the Logos. His dispatching of his angels to testify unto the churches can mean only that the Demiurgus, or Cosmic Intelligence embodied in an exalted being of the hierarchy, ordered the incarnation of the legionary hosts in the interests of the human evolution on earth. The “churches” can by no possible sophistry be distorted into a reference to the early Christian congregations. This would be to bring the dignity of cosmic operations down almost to the level of the monthly meeting of the Ladies’ Auxiliary! The “churches” were groupings or gradations of spiritual beings at or near the completed state of human development, if not the “ecclesia” or “assembly” of the divinized mortals.

Theology has never adequately traced the course of the evolutionary processes by which the simple fact of the descent of the angels for incarnation took on the character of a “fall,” with the implication of disaster. Says Cocker: “The present life is a fall and a punishment.”19 Many passage from the Bible could be adduced to show that the incarnation was held to have resulted in a fall or debasement of pristine angelic virtue. The Revelation apostrophe to the fallen Babylon, the mighty, whose ancient glory had departed, giving place to the glory of the Beast, whose courts had become the habitation of devils, and whose fornicatory wines had made the nations drunk, is doubtless an allusion to the situation here envisaged. To what else could St. Paul conceivably be referring when, speaking of the Gentiles, he says:

“And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things.”

An earlier paragraph has corrected the miscomprehension of the meaning of the term “Gentiles,” which has beset the theological mind for centuries. It would be illogical to ascribe so dire an evolutionary degeneration to the mere accident of non-membership in a religious caste, or nation of allegedly “chosen” people. The Gentiles were the as yet undivinized “sons of men,” as distinct from the “Sons of God,” or Israelites, and it was their unpurified natures that dragged down the gods who incarnated in their bodies and dimmed their glory. The Gentile is the man “from beneath”; the Israelite is “from above,” as Jesus affirmed. “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second is the Lord from heaven,” says St. Paul. The immersion of the latter in the bodies of the former reduced their originally vivid intelligence to such a point of stultification that they sank by degrees under the dominance of the sensual disposition. And here is found the conversion of the evolutionary “descent” into the theological “fall.” The two terms Gentiles and Israelites can’t be attached to any historical nationals. Their employment by several nations was at first only an allegorical flourish. The Greek use of the term “barbarians” and our own recent literary use of the word “Philistines” somewhat parallel this treatment of the word “Gentiles.” The Gentiles were the party of the first part in evolution, who drew down the gods and changed their glory into the semblance of grinning hyenas, chattering apes, braying asses and rapacious wolves, in spite of “broad oaths fast sealed” and a covenant with deity.

The advent of the Prometheans to earth was the oblation, the divine sacrifice, the sacrifice “for sin.” Yet it is only a perverted connotation of the word “sacrifice” that has caused this act of cosmic policy to be taken in the light of a self-privation on the part of the Luciferian hosts. Few words of noble meaning have not been touched by the disfiguring hand of low human understanding. Sacrifice (Latin: sacra and facio) means “to make sacred,” and has no immediate correlation with the denial to oneself of benefits. If privation came in the process of incarnation, it was incidental, not inherent. The angel legions descended to make a lower order of life holy – “to adorn what was below them,” as Plotinus puts it. Their labor was to the end of “sacrifying” a merely natural kingdom of life. It was to sanctify with the gift of divinity the mortal race, and make it immortal and divine.

This is not to assert that the enterprise did not entail hardship. The labor of evolution especially when self-consciousness had been awakened and the Ego became aware of his failures, and knew that he bore responsibility for his conduct, is more likely to be a Via Dolorosa than a path of roses. The reason for the accentuation of the denial aspect of the sacrifice is to be found in the fact that the upliftment of the lower grade entailed a long relinquishment of paradisiacal blessedness for the spirits of light, and a quenching of their deific fire in the moist humors, or “water,” of the body. The adventure brought privation, torture, woe. It was an exile from a home of beatific happiness. To be plunged from a state of dreamy blissfulness into a state of dull realism and concrete objectivity, where the golden glow of idealism faded from every sight, was for them a dimming of the bright lamp of life. It was indeed a plunge from lively consciousness into partial unconsciousness. It was an ostracism from heaven into a long, hard and unattractive migration. They were to become colonists of a strange, distant land, if not castaways on its unfriendly shores. Cocker, already quoted, comments, in reference to Plato’s Cave Allegory: “Their sojourn on earth is . . . a dreary exile from their proper home.” Earth life is only a shadow of reality. In Egyptian scriptures the holy city of Aarru-Hetep (Salem) was to be built up by “the outcasts or the colonists from Egypt.” St. Paul states that “we are a colony of heaven” (Moffatt translation). This is a clear Biblical intimation that we are expatriates from a higher world. Greek philosophy and mythology are replete with allusions to souls wandering on earth, exhiles from a diviner sphere. Most of the semi-divine heroes had long journeys and crusades assigned to them. And the Prodigal Son is of course the unquestioned representative of the exile’s role in Bible lore. From the Greek philosopher Empedocles comes the echo of the sentiment that the soul has migrated to a foreign country:

“For this I weep, for this indulge my woe,

That e’er my soul such novel realms should know.”

Moses’ son was Gershom, which the Moffatt translation gives as meaning “Stranger,” with the parenthetical explanation: “For I have been a stranger in a foreign land.”

In this connection there is the possibility of a rational solution of the meaning of a text in the Bible which, in its conventional reading, has proven a perplexity and a “hard saying.” It appears to be a stroke at the fundamental integrity of human kinship, family affection. In Luke (14:26) Jesus tells the multitude that no one can be his disciple unless one hate father, mother, brother, sister and all kin. In the great Gnostic-Christian work, the Pistis Sophia (Bk. 2, p. 341) a text runs to nearly the same effect:

“For this cause have I said unto you aforetime, ‘he who shall not leave father and mother to follow after me is not worthy of me.’ What I said then was, ye shall leave your parents, the rulers, that ye may all be children of the first, everlasting mystery.”

In the light of the additional explanatory material given in the Pistis Sophia and omitted from the Gospel account, it is possible to see that this necessity of the disciple’s leaving father, mother and kin and breaking all home ties in an apparently ruthless disruption of the most commendable of earthly loves, bore no original reference to human parents and kindred, but was another of the many illusions to the expatriation of the angelic orders. This breaking of home ties occurred in the celestial paradise, which in all portrayal is called “the Homeland.” To be a follower of Jesus in his mission to a submerged humanity was to accompany him in his descent to earth from heavenly Father and empyrean home. If religion had kept its original knowledge of our cosmic errand, we could have been saved the perennial perplexity of wondering why the Lord’s disciples are commanded to flout the tenderest of human ties.

Many of the allusions to the children of Israel as exiles, captives in a foreign land, hostages and outcasts, are made during periods when the historical Hebrews were not in either the Egyptian or the Babylon- ian or Assyrian captivities, and were not in any mundane sense exiles. Empedocles describes mortals as “Heaven’s exiles straying from the orb of light.” In line with our thought are the words of the Christian Advent hymn:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appear.

Nor less grandly true are the lines of the “Gospel” hymn:

I’m but a stranger here;

Heaven is my home.

The various exiles, captivities and wanderings of the children of Israel were not historical. They were symbolic accounts of the descent of the twelve “tribes” of angelic spirits, “chosen” by the higher Lords in heaven to come to earth and divinize incipient humanity.

NOTES

1. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 4.

2. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 120.

3. The superior intellect of man is indeed the “god” spoken of. “Man’s genius is a deity,” said Heraclitus.

4. Pagan and Christian Creeds, p. 239.

5. See later explication of all lunar typology in the present work. 6. The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato, II, 275.

7. The Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 93.

8. The Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 312.

9. T. J. Thorburn: The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels, p. 80 ff.

10. See Proclus: The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato, 2 Vols., wherein the two hundred and eleven principles of Greek theology are listed and expounded.

11. See later exposition of the Law of the Two Truths, passim.

12. The Natural Genesis, I, p. 332.

13. It should be understood that the Egyptians often used the names of kings for the character of the Christos, or the sun-god.

14. Book of Hades, First Division.

15. Detailed by Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 556.

16. See: The Book of Job as a Greek Tragedy, Horace M. Kallen.

17. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 559.

18. This spiritual edict has often been sadly misconstrued by mystical devotees. It does not, to be sure, imply the stern negation of all carnal impulses, far less their total annihilation. The animal nature is not to be ruthlessly slain, but transformed into the likeness of the spiritual man.

19. Greek Philosophy.

Chapter VIII

IN DURANCE VILE

Having established the place of the soul’s fall or descent as our earth, the next task is to present the teaching of ancient philosophy as to the character of the soul’s actual experience in the dismal habitat of the animal bodies. Christian theology makes much of the doctrine of the Incarnation, but a vast amount of primary knowledge that would enlighten the mind with reference to this cardinal item has been lost by the Church’s flouting of the early Gnosis. The doctrine has been to ecclesiasticism such a baffling conundrum that it was shelved to a place of happy security in the person of the historical Jesus. Indeed the evidence grows stronger, as study proceeds, that the theory of a carnalized or personalized Savior, comprehending in himself every divine attribute, became established in early polity from the sheer fact of its serviceableness, it being found an easy solution of many a knotty problem of exegesis to ascribe every aspect of Godhood to the man Jesus. All divinity once safely localized in his person, a hundred confusing questions arising from the entanglement of deity with mortal flesh in all humanity could be summarily disposed of. Pagan philosophy required the presence of divinity in every son of earth. But a decadent religionism found the rationale of the situation too difficult to purvey to its ignorant following, and the euhemerized Jesus proved an easy evasion. Was not Jesus the only-begotten son of God? Insecure as this left the hierarchical status of every other Christian, it was sufficient for pious zealotry. The Incarnation was condensed in Jesus, touchingly born in the climate of tropical Egypt, and heralded by a star which in any astronomical view whatever becomes a natural monstrosity. All things considered it was a device of consummate utility to consign the whole matter of the Incarnation to the distant and sacrosanct person of the Nazarene. Beside bearing in his body the sins of the world, he has borne also in his frail person the unsolved problems of a blind and errant theology! The Jesus of Christianity was as much an intellectual necessity to a befuddled ecclesiasticism as Voltaire’s God has been to a humanity trying to rationalize the universe. To a theology plunged into dialectical difficulties by its rejection of esotericism, a Jesus who “paid it all” has indeed been “a very present help in trouble.” By cramming all the essence of divinity that came to earth into the sainted confines of Jesus’ body and life, all qualms concerning the neglected “Christ in you” could be overborne by a wave of the hand toward the picture of the man of Galilee on the cross.

But pagan thought faced the implications and the data of the incarnation problem squarely. A fragment of deity was brought and lodged within the breast of every animal form evolved to the verge of the human kingdom. The animal race awaited the implantation of the divine spark, as their hope of a link with the order of responsible free agency and self-conscious intelligence. They stood at the point at which physical evolution could take them no farther toward mentality without the endowment of a nucleus or seed of potential mind from the plane above. They awaited the incubation of divine intelligence in their physical forms. The agents of such a blessing were at hand in the legions of Asuras, who had evolved the desired element of mind in former cycles elsewhere, but yet required some rounds of incarnate experience to complete the perfection of their divinity. After rebellion and delay they came to fulfill their cosmic destiny. We are those “unwilling Nirvanees,” those “junior gods,” those angelic hosts! By our coming and sharing our nature with the lesser creatures, they, too, become the heirs of immortality; for the essence of which our higher nature was nucleated is imperishable. If the animal could append it to his being, he would be immortalized also. The Demiurgus in charging us with the commission, assured us that we “should never be dissolved” (Timaeus). The gist of Plato’s, as of Paul’s, writings is that man is a being compounded of a lower perishable and a higher indestructible vesture, the two linked by an intermediate principle which may be inclined to a union with either, and which therefore stands at the place of the balance in human destiny. The fleshly form was contributed by physical evolution on earth, but it was molded upon the matrix of an emotional body of finer etheric substance supplied by the men of the previous Moon race, or the Lunar Pitris, at the end of their life period on our satellite.1 A higher race, concluding a course of incarnations upon another planet of our system, Venus or Mercury, contributed the mental or manasic principle, which was to control emotion and sensation. And the highest spiritual node of being was the gift of entities embodying the soul of the sun. We can see now why in ancient legends of the formulation of mankind, the various gods are said to contribute each a bit of his own nature to compile the final product, as in the Pandora myth. Manas or mind was the intermediary between emotion and spirit. Spirit was to control mind as mind controlled emotion. With the descending Asuras2 came potential mind and the germ of undying spirit.

To present briefly the archaic legend of the advent, the accounts relate that of the twelve legions chosen to undertake the adventure in the far country, two were lost and had to find their place again in evolution later. Of the remaining ten, one group of five responded willingly to the order. They were therefore known as the Suras, or “willing Nirvanees.” They are the obedient elder brother of the Prodigal Son allegory! But in their effort they did not descend to full incarnation in animal bodies, but remained suspended, so to say, over the earthly scene in what might be called spiritual bodies. They never reached the flesh, never became the souls of fleshly creatures. They were obedient, but never fully executed their commission. The remaining group of five legions, profiting by their example, at first refused to run the risk of the same abortive effort, and were known as the Asuras, or “unwilling ones.” (Syrians and Assyrians became their earthly counterparts in the handling of the uranograph, the ancient “u” changing always to a “y” when Anglicized.) However, they could not avert their destiny, and reluctantly obeying, they succeeded in linking their divine principle of intelligence to the mortal forms of the animal-men awaiting them. “The underworld awaits your coming” is a statement made to them in one of the prophetic books of the Old Testament. They were the younger and wayward son in the Prodigal Son allegory! But they did go out from home, as the elder brother did not. Therefore they were worthy of the fatted calf and the shining robe on their return, victorious. The elder brother, though obedient, had not earned the reward. This is the solution of the difficult situation in the allegory, in which the sulkiness and apparent neglect of the obedient son who had remained faithfully at home, have so universally defeated the exegetical efforts of the theologians. The parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins is likewise a glyph of this same cosmic predicament. For one of the names of the Asuras was Kumaras, meaning “celibate young men,” or “spiritual virgins.” They are the “Innocents” of the Gospel story and the Hamemmet Beings of the Book of the Dead. Their virginity is by virtue of the fact that they were entities of pure spiritual nature, radiations of basic Spirit, who had not yet had full incarnation, which was ever symbolized as a “marriage” of spirit with flesh! They were cosmically unmarried, hence “virgin” young men.

We have here a new intimation of profound meaning back of the feature of the “virgin birth” and the “immaculate conception.” The virginity pertained to both sides, the spiritual as well as the material. If the matter that was to give birth to spiritual mind was hitherto unwedded to spirit, never impregnated by spirit, so likewise were the spiritual units who were sent to be the “Bridegroom” of New Testament dramatism to wed these immaculate virgins of the material nature. They were yet “innocent” of copulation with matter. They were the ones chosen to descend to earth and wed material forms, inoculating virgin matter with the principle of immortal mind. They were “young men” and “celibate.” Beside Hamemmet Beings the Egyptians termed them “younglings in the egg” and the “younglings of Shu,” the god. And they dramatized them as birds’ (souls’) eggs in the nest in the tree of life in danger of being devoured by the serpent – of the lower nature! One Egyptian name given, in addition to Apap or Apep, or Apepi, to the great Hydra serpent that lay in wait to devour the Manes in the “bight of Amenta” was Herut or Herrut. Evidence that is not lightly to be brushed aside in derision can be adduced in support of the suggestion that the name Herod, foisted on this serpent character in the myth when drama was historicized, is just a cover for the Herut reptile that threatens the Innocents! The historical Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, was dead at the year 4 B.C. Christian chronology has had to shift the “date” of Christ’s “birth” to the year 4 B.C. in order to be able to include Herod in the story. But Cyrenius (Quirinus), the “Governor in Syria” at the time of Jesus’ birth according to the Gospel account, reigned from 13 to 11 B.C. Will another shift of seven to nine years be made to include him?

The Kumaras in the Egyptian books exult in their escape from the serpent threat with the cry: “Apap hath not found my nest. My egg has not been cracked!” The infant Hercules in his cradle strangled the two great snakes that crept up to devour him, and both Horus and his cat symbol stand with feet upon the giant serpent’s neck, the cat severing its head with a knife.

Thomas Taylor, the discerning Platonist, states that we mortal men are composed of the “fragments” of the Titans. In Platonism generally the Titans were styled Thyrsus-bearers, as having “led the soul into the body,” or “brought ungenerated into generated existence.” Their part in implanting the seed of intelligence in man is poetically set forth in Proclus’ Hymn to Minerva:

“Invigorated hence by thee we find

A demiurgic impulse in the mind.”

Massey tells us that “in the Latita-Vistara eight heavenly beings are enumerated as the Gods or Devas. They are the Nagas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Asuras, Garudas, Kumaras and Mahorgas.”3

They are the gods who (collectively) in Leviticus (26) say to the Israelites:

“I will ratify my compact with you; I will pitch my tent among you and never abhor you. I will live among you and be your God, and you shall be my people.”

In this great enterprise of leading whole and impartible natures into the realm of division and darkness they were said to have established “the garden of the Asuras” about the South Pole of the heavens, the Paradise of Yama, Lord of the region of death, whilst the Suras, or unfragmented deities, are said to have dwelt in the locality of the North Polar region, the fabled Mt. Meru, or Paradise of Indra. This opposition of the two races of divinities, termed the War in Heaven, was the celestial counterpart and prototypal aspect of the later struggle inaugurated between the heavenly and the earthly elements in human nature when the Asuras descended to assume physical vestures. It was the pattern in the heavens of the war between the first Adam, or natural man, and the second Adam, or the man regenerated by the infusion of a spiritual consciousness. The point now to be demonstrated beyond cavil is that the incarnation was localized in the bodies of a race that at the beginning was animal and in the end was to be human. The “tabernacling with men” which the deities undertook consisted in effecting the incorporation of their subtler faculties and capacities in bodies originally animal. The ancient apothegm of the sages – “Nature unaided fails” – must be given due consideration in the scheme of things and accepted as one of the canons of understanding. It seems to introduce into the system of evolution a bizarre and unaccountable factor. It appears to thrust the causative principle of mind, intelligence, into the order of natural unfoldment in a purely arbitrary way, such as science can’t countenance. It appears to make evolution jump over the gap between beast and human, and suddenly presents man endowed with self-determinative intelligence with no provision made for his having earned it in orderly development. But the ancient wisdom does supply the link that to science is missing. It reveals the irrationality of science’s attempt to account for the presence and growth of a plant without permitting the assumption that its seed was first planted in the soil. Science has been straining to explain the presence of mind in man without knowledge of the ancient theorem that each kingdom serves as the seed-bed for the generation of life of the kingdom above it. It has been searching for formulae of explanation in total want of the understanding that “one long immortal chain, whose sequence is never-ending, reaches by impact with that immediately above and by contact with that immediately below, from the very lowest to the very highest.”4

It is possible to discern a replica of this same linkage of principles in the functioning of our bodily organism, reaching from spirit at the top to flesh and bone at the bottom. Spirit touches and influences mind, mind touches emotion, emotion modifies nerve impulse, which affects the composition of the blood, and blood builds cell structure, eventuating in actual flesh and bone. The spirit in the human body is like a power current in a dynamo, motivating a dynamic impulse which reaches to the utmost bounds of the organism. But man, like nature, is composed of a series of structures of different tenuity, and each member of the series is a link in the chain, bound above and below to the contiguous links. The interrelation of the links is governed by the Law of Incubation, by which the seed germ of life on the level above is deposited in the soil of the level below, there to be hatched to new generation. In the Egyptian Ritual (Ch. 85) the incarnating Ego says: “I am the soul, the Creator of the god Nu, who maketh his habitation in the underworld; my place of incubation is unseen and my egg is not cracked.” And in the resurrection scene in the Ritual the revivified Ego, figured as a dove, exclaims: “I am the Dove; I am the Dove,”! as he rises from the realm of darkness wherein the “egg of his future being was hatched by the divine incubator” (Ch. 86).

In the Pistis Sophia of the Gnostics the doctrine of the incubation finds clear expression when Jesus says:

“I found Mary, who is called my mother, after the material body; I implanted in her the first power which I had received from the hands of Barbelo, and I planted in her the power which I had received from the hands of the great, the good Sabaoth” (Mead’s Trans., Bk. I, 13).

It is of transcendent importance to note that the Greek (Gnostic) work directly identifies Mary, the mother of divinity, with the physical body! Let Christian theology be advised of the long-lost truth of this matter. The mother in all ancient allegories typifies nothing more than the physical body which in man becomes the womb or matrix in which the radiant Christ-body of spirit is brought to birth. Is Christianity to fall below heathenism in its inability to rise above the level of the symbols to the discernment of the abstract truth behind them?

Proclus speaks of the soul having fallen like seed into the realms of generation.5 Paul’s characterization of the nature of man as sown in corruption is a resort again to the imagery of incubation. The “junior gods,” potentially if not yet actually divine, were sown, planted in a soil prepared by evolution to nourish their latent fires to expansion and full function, and this was the incarnation. The “fleshly” connotation of the word leaves no doubt as to the full reality of the process; the ground prepared was the physical body of animal-men. The entry of these divine seeds of life and mind into each animal form made possible for those creatures their transition across the gap of the “missing link” to the plane of humanhood. The link between brute beast and thinking man is missing on earth; for it was forged by evolutionary process in another realm, on another planet, and transferred to earth at a given critical epoch in mundane history. As Plutarch tells us, only one fourth of man, his physical body, is derived directly from the earth; the other three parts are brought here and linked to his material frame by appropriate affinities. That this may not remain an insoluble enigma to modern skepticism about such things, it may be said that each of these principles intermixed in man’s constitution was the product of an evolution on its particular globe, and that, since these globes themselves are but cells or organs in a larger composite living stellar being, the possibility of their sustaining vital relations or co-operative linkage in a common creative work is far from an unnatural presupposition. Science must go several steps deeper than it has yet gone into the secret workshop of nature before it can admit the legitimacy of such predications. Yet ancient psycho-physics faced the problems of life with the knowledge that all living organisms are concocted of a perishable material element and an imperishable subjective element bound together in temporary union. When the corruptible sheath fades away the imperishable nucleus floats free, persists and may later be embodied in another form. Science is to be reminded that substances are the more enduring in proportion to their tenuity, that “soul,” as the Greeks affirmed, is far more lasting than body. Hence impressions made upon it are a more ineradicable book of life than any cemetery epitaph. Our emotional body, our mental vehicle and our immortal spiritual vesture each brings the record of its past indelibly imprinted upon the underlying etheric substance of its composition.

From Greek Platonism we draw some of the most direct and dialectically essential support for the thesis of the bodily incarnation. From Olympiodorus’ Commentary on the Phaedo of Plato we take the following:

“It is necessary, first of all, for the soul to place a likeness of herself in the body. This is to ensoul the body. Secondly, it is necessary for her to sympathize with the image, as being of like idea. For every eternal form or substance is wrought into an identity with its interior substance, through an integrated tendency thereto.”

We are here enlightened about the interior affinities which the two partners to the union manifest toward each other, the bonds that draw and hold and eventually weld them together.

Another pointed assertion comes from the Chaldean Oracles: “For the Father of Gods and men placed our intellect in soul, but soul he deposited in sluggish body.”

Perhaps we shall find nowhere else so detailed and analytic a statement of the principles on which life and nature regulate the metamorphoses which divine consciousness undergoes as it descends the Jacob’s ladder from spirit heights to mortal sense on coming into incarnation, as in a paragraph from Proclus in the quaint style of Thomas Taylor’s rendering:

“In order likewise that this may become manifest and also the arrangement, let us survey from on high the descent, as Plato says, and defluxion of the wings of the soul. From the beginning, therefore, and at first the soul, departing from this divine union, descended into intellect, and no longer possessed real being unitedly and in one, but apprehended and surveyed them by simple projections and, as it were, contacts of its intellect. In the next place, departing from intellect, and descending into reason and dianoia, it no longer apprehended real being by simple intuitions, but syllogistically and transitively, proceeding from one thing to another, from propositions to conclusions. Afterwards, abandoning true reasoning and the dissolving peculiarity [analysis], it descended into generation, and became filled with much irrationality and perturbation. It is necessary, therefore, that it should recur to its proper principles and again return to the place from whence it came.”6

Nothing would so quickly aid modern psychology to work for fruitful results in understanding as to adopt this table of the successive “defluxions of the wings of the soul” in Plato’s magnificent analysis. Surely the present status and modus of the psyche’s operation are to be better envisaged if they are known to be the lowest and most darkened activity of a spiritual intelligence that on the heights above functioned by flashing intuition. Clearly outlined are the several steps which the soul takes from piercing light into murky darkness as it descends into body: first from identity with reality and direct inclusion of consciousness in it; then the plunge downward into that form of intellect which apprehends by immediate intuition; again the dip into the more sluggish processes of logical reasoning, in which, the inner relations of things being lost, the mind must establish them slowly by syllogistic process; and finally the dropping altogether from rational procedure into following the lead of sheer sense and impulse of the lower nature. With mighty realizations we are now able to see what St. Paul meant in saying, “Now we see through a glass darkly.”

From a dissertation on Theurgy translated by the Renaissance Platonist, Ficinus, we take the following clear statement of the gradations in the chain of the descent:

“So that all things are full of divine natures; terrestrial natures receiving the plenitude of such as are celestial, but celestial of supercelestial essences; while every order of things proceeds gradually, in a beautiful descent, from the highest to the lowest. For whatever particulars are collected into one above the order of things, are afterwards dilated in descending, various souls being distributed under their various ruling divinities.”7

From the grand master of divine knowledge himself, Plato (Timaeus, xliv), comes the remarkable declaration:

“The Deity (Demiurgus) himself formed the divine; and then delivered over to his celestial offspring (the subordinate or generated gods), the task of creating the mortal. These subordinate deities, copying the example of their parent, and receiving from his hands the immortal principles of the human soul, fashioned after this the mortal body, which was consigned to the soul as a vehicle, and in which they placed also another kind of soul, which is mortal and is the seat of violent and fatal passions.”

For sheer enlightenment these passages are worth whole libraries of modern speculation. The lower soul spoken of is the one which emanated from the moon race, and is, strictly speaking, the soul of the animal, not the god-soul of the man. It is this lower soul, called often the “elemental,” the seat of the animal instincts, that the god has come to educate, and in the same body with which it has come to dwell. When Plato describes it as “the seat of violent and fatal passions,” he is definitely identifying our mortal tenement with the body of an animal. This conclusion is strengthened by one of the Zoroastrian Oracles, which declares: “The wild beasts of the earth shall inhabit thy vessel.”8

Edward Carpenter, in reviewing the multifarious forms of the “sacrifice” doctrine in religions, says that “Brahma, . . . Indra, Soma, Hari and other gods, became incarnate in animals.”9 And it is not without extreme significance that we have such a statement as the following from a scholarly authority: “The sense of an absolute psychical distinction between man and beast, so prevalent in the civilized world, is hardly to be found among lower races.”10

Naturally so, because the gap between man and animal there is less wide than it now is in cultured races. The animal did not at one jump land into full manhood. He was given the as yet ungerminated seed of divinity to nurse within the depths of his own nature. Only a tiny segment of the god’s life was in conscious manifestation in and through the lower mentality of the beast at the start. The god could put little of his full power and capacity into expression through the imperfect brain of the animal. For a long time, or until the angel’s presence in the brute body could refine the latter’s impulses and proclivities and increase brain expansion, the deity could only lurk in the background of consciousness, becoming what we now so ignorantly term “the subconscious mind.” There was obviously little difference between the first humans and the nearest animals. The difference did not assume marked proportions until ages had rolled by and the slow march of development had enabled the god to project more and more of his innate endowment into the sluggish nature of the beast he was tutoring. We have here, systematically propounded for the first time, the basic criterion for evaluating the progress of human culture. Culture is essentially nothing but the gradual modification of crude animal impulses into the gentler motions of the higher self. Modernity has never concisely known the cosmic or evolutionary foundations of this transaction. These lay hidden under the rejected esotericism of Platonic and other arcane teachings.

The Bible sets forth the implications of the incarnation in sensationally direct form in the Book of Daniel. Addressing the king (always a figure for the god) Daniel tells him that he will be taken away from human beings to dwell with the wild animals; and he condenses volumes of Platonic philosophy dealing with the obscuration of deific intellect in the descent, into the pithy statement, repeated three times in the first five chapters, that “you shall be given the mind of an animal”! An animal’s mind was given unto him and his dwelling was with the wild beasts.” Also: “He ate grass like cattle, and his nails grew like the claws of a bird.” (Incidentally, here is positive proof of the non-historicity of Bible narrative, since these things did not happen to the historical King, Nebuchadnezzar!) But the Paradise lost in the incarnation was regained in the end, for finally, “When the time was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes unto heaven; my reason returned unto me, and I blessed the Lord, praising him and honoring him forever.” The period of the duress in animal habitat is given as “seven years,” each cycle of incarnate life being completed in seven ages! And all the mighty meaning of this grand allegory was missed because Nebuchadnezzar was taken for an historical personage, instead of a figure for the god in man.

Egypt furnishes us with one of the most direct and indubitable bits of testimony to the animal incarnation of the soul in one of the numberless prayers addressed to Osiris:

“Hail, Osiris Khenti-Amentiu (Lord of Amenta)! Thou art the Lord of millions of years, the lifter-up of wild animals, the Lord of cattle; . . .”

As Amenta is the region in which the Osiris-soul contacts the body, the verse is of surpassing meaning in this connection.

Massey writes in The Natural Genesis (Vol. I, p. 71):

“A very comprehensive designation for the divinities of all kinds, says Gill (Myths and Songs, p. 34), is the Mangaian ‘te anau tuarangi,’ the heavenly family. This ‘celestial race includes rats, lizards, beetles, sharks and several kinds of birds. The supposition was that the heavenly family had taken up their abode in these birds and fishes.’”

“Plutarch refers to the idea ‘that the Gods, being afraid of Typhon; did, as it were, hide themselves in the bodies of ibises, dogs and hawks,’ and repudiated it as ‘foolery beyond belief.’ This, however, is a matter of interpretation. We know that such representations were part of the drama of the Mysteries. Many descriptions might be quoted to show that in their religious ceremonies, the actors performed their masquerade in the guise of animals.”

We have here a sterling clue to the lost meaning of most of the weird ritualism still carried out in our celebration of Hallowe’en. The importance and gripping significance of this remnant of ancient symbolic dramatism is not dreamed of today. The masks worn were originally those of animal faces or hides. The festival, coming at the time of the September equinox (with a forty-days’ interval), when the sun, eternal symbol of the divine soul, was descending across the line which marked the boundary between disembodied spirit and soul embodied, dramatized the entry of the god into the animal body. “Mask” is in Latin “persona.” The god was then putting on the mask of his personality; and all the weird capers, grimaces, horseplay and general buffoonery of the Hallowe’en revelry most piquantly prefigure the deity’s ungainly animalish behavior when cavorting behind the outward mask of the animal’s nature! The moon being the parent of the mortal body, lunar symbolism was prominently introduced into the portrayal. And all this is another strong proof that it was the primal religious ritual drama that gave rise to social tradition and celebratory custom, and not folk-practice that gave rise to the myth, as scholars have always so erroneously contended.11

A patent hint of strong esoteric significance is found in the following:

“Diodorus has it that the gods were at one time hard pressed by the giants, and compelled to conceal themselves for a while under the form of animals, which in consequence became sacred.”12

Here is straight anthropology hidden under semi-fable. It is the true explanation of a vast amount of tribal custom that has perplexed the learned world no end. Whole chapters of Frazers’s Golden Bough and similar works, of which the authors have offered no rational interpretation and believed none possible, become intelligible at one stroke, and such a cultured people as the ancient Egyptians are exculpated from the charge of crude animism and fetishism in “worshipping animals.”

The incarnation was incontestably the most fateful event that had ever taken place in the evolutionary career of animal-man, giving him a status far above that of his former condition. It was the far-away beginning of his apotheosis. It was his passport of entry into the kingdom of mind. The folk-lore and Märchen of the nations carry the story of this mighty crisis in evolution in an apparent mélange of childish fancy, flippant caprice of invention and forms of the grossest imagery. These seeming qualities have been the means of derailing the train of our understanding of the hidden purport of the relics. We have but to use our imagination constructively to see how mythography passed first into the realism of dramatic representation, then into legend lacking the original spiritual meaning, and finally into a sadly distorted and barren folk-tale.

“Herodotus was told that the Neurian wizards among the Scythians, settled about the Black Sea, became each of them a wolf for a few days once a year. The Texan tribe of the Tonkaways did the same, when, clothed in wolf-skins, they celebrated the resurrection of the wolf from the Hades. The head of a wolf was worn in the Mysteries of Isis; because the wolf (Anup) was her warder and guardian during the search for Osiris in the underworld. . . . The candidate as the Loveteau of French Masonry still enters as a young wolf.”13

A Chinese remnant relates that a maid conceived by air (the Holy Spirit!) and brought forth a child, which the father then threw into the pig-yard! “It was the rightful heir, who lived to become the monarch.” If this seems tawdry and profane, let the reader note the obvious resemblance to the Prodigal Son allegory and the conception story of Mary.

The Shilluks have a tradition that “Nyakang then created men and women out of the animals he found in the country.” The promise to mankind in the Genesis account, that the human should be lord of the animal creation, ruler of the beasts of the field, has obvious reference to the headship of the mental man over the body itself, which would be assumed by the soul or god upon his entry therein, under the terms of his covenant with Deity. His task in the incarnational assignment was to tame, subdue, discipline and finally exalt the lower personality, which was the depository of all animal experience in its soul, – our sub-conscious mind. Passages in the Book of Enoch state that man shall dwell with the wild beasts and shall subdue and overcome them. A verse in Ezekiel declares to the soul: “I shall fill the wild beasts of the earth with thee.” But one of the most straightforward figurations of the incarnation in all religious literature is found in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans, an apocryphal New Testament Gospel, when the soul, speaking as one of the characters in the drama, most beautifully poetizes his nature and mission in this remarkable utterance: “Suffer me to be food to the wild beasts, by whom I shall attain unto God. For I am the wheat of God, and I shall be ground between the teeth of the wild animals that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.” The crushing of wheat into flour for bread was a widely used symbol of the fragmentation of unitary deity consequent upon his descent into bodies. The statement here that the crushing was done by the teeth of the wild beasts is beyond cavil a positive reference to the animal embodiment. And the added information that by such lowly incarnation the soul shall attain unto God should restore to theology the lost conception of the importance of the bodily life.

The Bible’s declaration that we “shall be as sheep among wolves” is a slanting hint at the picture of the gentle Christ spirit tenanting the bodies of the wild beasts of earth! And the scene of Daniel, the man of God, in the lion’s den, is another suggestion that the soul may safely reside in the animal’s body or “den,” if it holds true to its divine ideal.

An Egyptian text addresses Thoth as “he who sendeth forth his heart to dwell in his body.” Another presents us with a definite corroboration of the incarnation thesis. It speaks of Annu (in this case our earth) as “the land wherein souls are joined unto their bodies even in thousands.”

An Arunta legend describes the animistic powers attributed to beings as the “ancestors who reproduce themselves by incorporation in the life on earth in the course of becoming men or animal.”

It was the fundamental Egyptian conception that the god, on descending to earth, became “fleshed.” The word Karas, which was used to designate the mummy, is traced to the Greek kreas, flesh. The taking on of a carnal form was in its true connotation the mummification of the Osiris or spirit.14 An Egyptian text asserts most positively the union of soul and body. Chapter 163 of the Ritual says: “Let his soul have its being within his body, and let his body have its being within his soul.” And another chapter (89) is entitled “the chapter by which the soul is united to the body.” This can’t mean the dead body, since obviously the soul is separated from, not united with, the cadaver. It can mean nothing but the conjunction of the incoming soul with the body at birth or a little later.

The amassing of so much data in support of the Incarnation, a doctrine of theology that is still included in ecclesiastical acceptance, may appear a labor of supererogation. Far from it. The data presented have been assembled with the purpose of restoring the dogma to its pivotal place of importance in the theological temple. It has been so viciously emasculated that a mass of testimony as to its original cardinal utility had to be adduced, if it is to be re-established in its rugged pristine meaning. Mankind works blindly at the main problem confronting it so long as this doctrine is obscured. It was never intended to mean that the whole of the power of the Logos was crowded into the admittedly limited area of a single personality. It was not accepted in this light by the intelligent Fathers of the early Church, such as Clement and Origen; for they are on record as expressly repudiating such an eventuality. They regarded a personalized embodiment of deity as infinitely degrading to the Logos, verily a blasphemy.

Furthermore how can we understand Paul’s preachment of the warfare between carnal and spiritual natures unless we are assured that soul and flesh were conjoined in intimate and affective relationship? If theology is to rise again to benignant influence, it must be mounted again upon its ancient bases of anthropology. If the advent, the incarnation, the birth, the temptation, the baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion and resurrection can’t be shown to be the type of our own actual experience in present living, the temple of theology can’t be expected to be rebuilt on a foundation of mystical sentiment alone. If the cosmological and anthropological aspects of the original esotericism had not been disdained, theology would not now stand in such forlorn case before a world styling itself intelligent. Thrown down from her pedestal of ancient dignity, she lies prostrate in the courtyard of the Church, and the busy populace hurrying by on worldly bent mocks her or heeds her not. She has no place in the hall of science, no true home in the human heart. Hardly even in the somber pulpit does she stand in honor. Her only place is in the dim and darksome alcoves of the ecclesiastic’s library; and priestly zeal essays in vain to win back for her the departed power.

On this score it is desirable to give assent to one or two of Massey’s discerning judgments before passing on to the corollaries of the doctrine:

“The doctrine of the incarnation had been evolved and established in the Osirian religion at least four thousand years, and possibly ten thousand years, before it was purloined and perverted in Christianity.”15

“The legend of the voluntary victim who in a passion of divinest pity became incarnate and was clothed in human form and feature for the salvation of the world, did not originate in a belief that God had manifested once for all as an historic personage. It has its roots in the remotest past. The same legend was repeated in many lands with a change of name, and at times of sex, for the sufferer, but none of the initiated in the esoteric wisdom ever looked upon the Kamite [Egyptian] Iusa, or Gnostic Horus, Jesus, Tammuz, Krishna, Buddha, Witoba, or any other of the many saviors as historic in personality, for the simple reason that they had been more truly taught.”16

The incarnation, however, only begins the impartation of deity to the human race. It inaugurated on the planet a chain of events, the circumstances and trend of which must now be outlined. All of these involvements are profoundly relevant to the system of theology.

Greek philosophy viewed the descent and incarnation of the gods as entailing upon these exalted beings an almost total loss of their pristine glory and felicity, and a devastating reduction of their coefficient of consciousness. The soul became “cribbed, cabined and confined” in the sorry limitations of the carnal body, as it lost a dimension of consciousness at each step on the downward path. It becomes bound to the sensual and the palpable, after having been able to range at will throughout the limitless spaces of universal thought. It is impossible to surpass in lucidity the language of Greek philosophy in delineating these matters. Proclus, as reported by Iamblichus, avers that17

“the soul by descending into the realms of generation, resembles a thing broken and relaxed. . . . Hence the soul energizes partially and not according to the whole of itself . . . the intellectual part of it is fettered . . . but the doxastic18 sustains many fractures and turnings.”

Proclus elucidates Plato’s findings to the effect that

“it is impossible while here, to lead a theoretic life in perfection, as is evident from the causes which are enumerated in the Phaedo, viz., the occupations and molestations of the body, which do not suffer us to energize theoretically without impediment and disturbance.”19

And his fellow-Platonist, the learned Iamblichus, adds a forceful assertion of the same idea:

“For the human soul is contained by one form and is on all sides darkened by body, which he who denominates the River of Negligence or the Water of Oblivion, or ignorance and delirium, or a bond through passions, will not by such appellations sufficiently express its turpitude. How therefore is it possible that the soul which is detained by so many evils can ever become sufficient to an energy of this kind?”20 Empedocles, evidently drawing his philosophical ideas from Orphic Mystery cultism, has a poem, a fragment of which speaks of the “joyless region” in which the souls on earth

“Through Ate’s meads and dreadful darkness stray.”

The soul descends from the realms of light to the region of gloom:

“She flies from deity and heavenly light

To serve mad Discord in the realms of night.”

A dialectical echo of Plato’s Cave Myth is heard seven centuries after the Republic was written, in the language of the great Plotinus, mystic Neo-Platonist of the third century. Dealing with the fable of Narcissus and elucidating its hidden purport, he says:

“Hence, as Narcissus, by catching at the shadow, plunged in the stream and disappeared, so he who is captivated by beautiful bodies, and does not depart from their embrace, is precipitated, not with the body, but with his soul, into a darkness profound and repugnant to intellect, through which, remaining blind both here and in Hades, he associates with shadows.”21

In the Phaedrus Plato, in the beautiful allegory of the Chariot and the Winged Steeds, portrays the soul as being dragged down by the lower elements in man’s nature and subjected to a slavery incident to corporeal embodiment. Out of these conditions he traces the rise of numerous evils that disorder the mind and becloud the reason. Indeed he shows with convincing dialectic that evil is just this breaking up of the vision of whole natures into distracted particulars where the interconnection of part with part is lost sight of. Evil is seen to be due to the condition of partiality and multiformity inseparable from the incarnate state, “into which we have fallen by our own fault.” The rational element, formerly in full function, now falls asleep. Life is thereupon more generally swayed by the inclinations of the sensual part. Man becomes the slave of sense, the sport of phantoms and illusions. This is the realm in which Plato’s noesis, or godlike intellect, ceases to operate for our guidance and we are dominated by doxa, or “opinion.”22 This state of mental dimness is the true “subterranean cave” of the Platonic myth, in which we see only shadows, mistaking them for reality.

Thomas Taylor’s clear language enforces these ideas for our benefit: “Such indeed is the wretched situation of the soul when profoundly merged in a corporeal nature. She not only becomes captive and fettered, but loses all her original splendor; she is defiled with the impurity of matter; and the sharpness of her rational sight is blunted and dimmed through the thick darkness of a material night.”23

Proclus, an expounder of Plato rated nearly equal with his great inspirer, writes: “when it [the soul] energizes according to nature, it is superior to the influence of Fate, but when it falls into sense and becomes irrational and corporeal, it follows the natures that are beneath it, and living with them as with intoxicated neighbors, is held in subjection by a cause that has dominion over things that are different from the rational essence.”24

Indeed we have here the Greek philosophical root of one of the pivotal phases of Pauline doctrine. It was the descent and mooring of the soul “to the ruinous bonds of the body” that brought the spirit of man under the dominion of what Paul calls “the law” – of Fate, Karma and Necessity. This, too, was “the bondage in Egypt” of the Old Testament. On her own high plane the soul was in a state of liberty, “the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” Only by her incarceration in a vessel whose constitutional functions were under the laws of physics and chemistry was she subjected to the rule of matter. The Greek philosophers declared that her release from this bondage was to be won only through the discipline of “philosophy.” It taught the earnest man to abjure the motions of the flesh and to rise to the delight and freedom of the noetic consciousness. Paul couched the process in the language of religion, and called it spirituality or “grace.”

“The dark night of the soul,” no less than the Götterdämmerung, was, in the ancient mind, just the condition of the soul’s embodiment in physical forms. Taylor reasons that Minerva (the rational faculty, as Goddess of Wisdom) was by her attachment to body given wholly “to the dangerous employment and abandons the proper characteristics of her nature for the destructive revels of desire.” All this is the dialectic statement of the main theme of ancient theology – the incarnation of the godlike intellect and divine soul in the darksome conditions of animal bodies.

The modern student must adjust his mind to the olden conception – renewed again by Spinoza – of all life as subsisting in one or another modification of one primordial essence, called by the Hindus Mulaprakriti. This basic substance was held to make a transit from its most rarefied form to the grossest state of material objectivity and back again, in ceaseless round. Darkness was the only fit symbol to give to the mind any suggestive realization of the conditions of living intellectual energy when reduced in potential under the inertia of matter.

So severely curtailed were the soul’s powers in bodily life that it was denominated her incarceration. The soul was a captive, caught in a prison, the doors of which were clamped fast upon it. Its jailer was the body with its sensuous nature. And like Paul in prison at Philippi, the soul would have to convert her jailer and transform his nature to the likeness of her own, to gain her release.

The implications of this cardinal item for ethics, pietism and spirituality are of the highest moment. For all such philosophies as Buddhism, Christian Science and Spiritualism (of certain forms), which seek escape from the rigors of incarnation by a sheer fiat of philosophical thought, and look to a disembodied state for immediate bliss, this principle is very directly an antidote and corrective. It points clearly to the false premises of all philosophies of “escape.” We can’t escape our obligation to the animal who is lending us his body for our own advancement. We came hither to transfigure these brute bodies, and such a miracle demands the exercise of the highest philosophical virtues and the fixed habits of theoretic contemplation of the beautiful and the good. Job asks if the days of man on earth “are not the days of an hireling,” and declares that he has “found a ransom.”

The Greeks believed “that human souls were confined in the body as in a prison, a condition which they denominated generation; from which Dionysus would liberate them.” Their sufferings, their progress through the ascending stages of being, their catharsis or purification, and their enlightenment constituted the theme of the Orphic writers and the groundwork of the mystical rites.

We have Proclus declaring that Plato in the Phaedo “venerates with a becoming silence the assertion delivered in the arcane discourses, that men are placed in the body as in a prison, secured by a guard, and testifies, according to the mystic ceremonies, the different allotments of purified and unpurified souls in Hades.”25 Here is evidence that the Mystery Plays were dramatic representations of our earthly imprisonment, with all that was corollary to it.

Of our condition of bondage Plato speaks in the following manner: “. . . liberated from this surrounding vestment, which we denominate body, and to which we are now bound like an oyster in its shell.” It is Plato who states that the function of philosophy is to “disenthrall the soul from the bondage of sense.” We are “captives chained to sense.”

It seems never to have occurred to modern classical students that the many descriptions scattered through the Aeneid of Virgil, of shadowy groves, vales and caves, are allegoric of the gloomy conditions the soul encounters in her residence in bodies. The woods whose bristling shades terrify the hero (the soul) are the dismal murks of physical incarceration. Physical imagery must be translated over into spiritual or psychic realities. For of such matters only were the early sages discoursing. Speaking of the removal of the junior deities from heaven to earth, the poet writes in the Aeneid: “Nor do they, thus enclosed in darkness and the gloomy prison, behold the heavenly air.”

One of the Egyptian texts says that it is impossible for the shade (soul) to leave the body on earth until the latter is raised up. After the telestic or perfecting work is finished, it is shown (Rit., Ch. 91) that the soul “does not [any longer] suffer imprisonment at any door in Amenta,” this lower earth, “either in coming in or going out.”

David echoes the Egyptian idea when in the cave (Ps. 142) he cries to the Lord: “Bring my soul out of prison.” In the great Kamite religion Horus, exactly as the Christian Jesus, comes to “the spirits in prison” to set them free from bondage and darkness and lead them to the land of light. The Manes, or soul in the body, cries to the keepers: “Imprison not my soul, keep not in custody my shade. Let the path be open to my soul. Let it not be made captive by those who imprison the shades of the dead. O keep not captive my soul, O keep not ward over my shadow” (Rit., Ch. 92). Says Massey:

“Horus is the Kamite prototype of the chosen one, called the servant by Isaiah, who came ‘for a light to the Gentiles,26 to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeons, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.’” (Isaiah 42:7.)27

An allied appellation of the “spirits in prison” is “those who are in their cells.” Horus comes to wake “those who sleep in their cells.” Again the Manes in the prison of Osiris cries” “Let not the Osiris enter into the dungeon of the captives.” “Let not Osiris advance into the valley of darkness.” Osiris says to the warders of the prisons” “May I not sit within your dungeons, may I not fall into your pits.” (Ch. 17.) Osiris elsewhere asks to be delivered from “this land of bondage.” Sut, the personified evil one as opponent of the deliverer Horus, is called “the keeper of the prison-house for death,” to which Horus comes as the lord of life and freedom. Horus, as deliverer, is said to come “to those who are in their prison cells,” held captive by Sut. An interesting sidelight is thrown on one aspect of the function of the Goddess Hathor, who was the “habitation of the hawk, or the birdcage of the soul”! Hathor was the goddess of material creation, to which the body belonged, and the hawk represented the soul. The soul is caged in the body. The latter is even called “the chamber of torture” in the title to Ch. 85 of the Ritual. In Ch. 164 it is promised that the soul “shall not be shut in along with the souls that are fettered,” and the prayer is uttered: “Let him escape from the evil chamber and let him not be imprisoned therein.” The title of Ch. 91 of the Ritual is: “The chapter of not letting the soul of Nu . . . be captive in the underworld.” In Ch. 130 there is a prayer: “Let not the Osiris-Nu fall headlong among those who would lead him captive.”

In the Egyptian fable of the lion and the mouse, the mouse, a symbol of the quick energic life that descends into the underground and lives in subterranean darkness, comes like Jesus and Horus to gnaw the bonds of the great lion, here seemingly standing for the animal soul in the toils of flesh and matter.

In the Egypto-Gnostic text, the Pistis Sophia, there were twelve dungeons of infernal torment, in which the twelve legions of angels were imprisoned. The souls could only escape by pronouncing the name of the god who guarded each dungeon door. To pronounce a god’s name was to become equal to him in nature.

In the Bible Exodus recounts that the children of Israel, who are figured as these twelve legions of devas “chosen” for the specific work of incarnation, “were groaning under their bondage, and the wail of their cries for help came up to God.” The land to which they had been sent to work their redemptive errand in bondage to the flesh was “Egypt, that slave pen.” In Leviticus (16) he admonishes them: “Remember, you were once a slave in Egypt.” A passage from the Logia, or recovered “sayings of the Lord,” declares that “whosoever followeth the Beast, into captivity he goeth; for the Beast maketh captive all who so will to follow him.”

Beside Plato’s immortal allegory, there are many uses of the cave as emblem of the dark chambers of the body. David’s pleading in the cave to be delivered from his prison is paralleled by Osiris’ crying for deliverance in the cavern of Sut in Amenta.

Thomas Taylor expressly says that the cavern was used to “signify union with the terrestrial body.”

In the fables of the Hercules cycle the hero (the soul, as always) tracks the Nemean lion into a cave where its capture is effected. As it was in the body that the divine nature in man was to “capture” or embrace the animal soul to lift it up, the cave symbolism for the body is again indicated.

In the Egyptian Ritual (Ch. 28) the soul affirms: “This whole heart of mine is laid upon the tablets of Tum, who guideth me to the caverns of Sut,” or through the dark passages of Amenta. The tablets of Tum are records of the law, or Maat. They are kept by Taht, the divine scribe, in the Hall of Judgment. Thus to come under the law (St. Paul) brings the deity to the caverns of Sut, the physical body. Of Horus it is written again that he comes to awaken the “prisoners in their cells, the sleepers in their caves.”

As ancient burial places were frequently caves in the hillside, we shall have little difficulty in tracing the symbolic meaning of the cave in both the birth and the resurrection scenes, not less than in the raising of Lazarus at Bethany, in Palestine, and of El-Asar(us) at Beth-Anu in Egypt.

Another direct employment of the cave emblem in Egyptian scripture is in Ch. 182 of the Ritual: “Taht says: ‘I gave Ra to enter the mysterious cave in order that he may revive the heart of him whose heart is motionless.’” As Ra is always the divinest spirit, there is again a clear allusion to the god descending into the cave of the body. In the Egyptian Bethany scene the “dead” soul is called aloud nine times to come forth from “the mysterious cave.” Massey traces the word “cave” to the Egyptian Kep, which he says means a secret dwelling. It is obvious that, whether this etymology stand the scrutiny of linguistic scholarship or not, the mythologists of old did at any rate conceive the body to be that mysterious hidden dwelling, that shadowy cavern into which the legionaries of heaven were obliged to plunge for added physical experience. With this point established beyond cavil, one of the great stones in the arch of ancient interpretation will have been put in place and one of the supports of the structure of a correct theology will have been set up.

From the idea of a cave it was but a short step to that of a pit. In Job a remarkable verse adduces the theory that in sleep, when the lower mind is in abeyance, the inner soul, the god, speaks to Job and admonishes him as to the fluctuating issue of his battle with the flesh: “He keepeth back his soul from the pit.” “The Lord is gracious unto him and saith, deliver him from going down into the pit.”28

In the Biblical account of the rebellion of the sons of Korah, already noticed, it is said that they went down into the pit in death, but lived on, as did the Manes in the Egyptian Amenta. As the earth opened to swallow these rebels (ourselves), the pit is equated with our mundane home. In the Hebrew writings the pit is identical with the region known as Sheol, equivalent to the Greek Hades and the Egyptian Amenta. Horus is cast into the mire of the pit.

Jonah, upon being saved from the sea-monster, exclaims: “Yet thou hast brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.” Ezekiel contributes a reference both to the pit and to Egypt in a passage which appears to be beyond question a replica of the myth of Joseph in Egypt. The prophet says (19:1-5):

As “a lioness she couched among the lions and she brought up one of her whelps; he became a young lion” – Jesus as lion of the house of Judah – “nations also heard of him; he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with hooks into the land of Egypt.”

On this portion of Bible text Massey comments as follows:

“The descent of the sun-god into the lower Egypt of Amenta is portrayed in the Marchen as the casting of Joseph into the pit, and the ascent therefrom in his glory by the coat of many colors,” adding: “in an exodus from Egypt which can no longer be considered historical.”29

In the Book of Hades (10th division) there is a scene “of making fast the dragon in the pit,” which is preparatory to the rising of Ra, or the birth of the divine in and from the human.

In Revelation (20:2, 3) the seer visioned an angel coming down out of heaven, having the keys of the abyss, or pit, and a great chain in his hand, with which he bound the dragon, the devil or Satan, for a thousand years, and sealed him fast in the pit. Horus makes war on the powers of evil for what they have done to his father Osiris, and calls to the gods to strike them and “punish them in your pits.” To them he says: “Your particular duties in Amenta are to keep the pits of fire in accordance with Ra’s command, which I made known to you.”

Let the reader estimate how far theology has departed from understanding that these “evil spirits” that were cast down and bound for a thousand years, or a long series of incarnations, were the angels of light, denominated Satan because of their rebellious and recalcitrant behavior under the hard decrees of incorporation in beastly bodies, and that these fiery pits are none other than our very physical bodies. Is not Satan equated with Lucifer, and is he not the Promethean Light-Bringer?

In Budge’s account of the functions of the ba-soul in Egyptian spiritism, he states that in the Papyrus of Nebqet the ba is seen, depicted as a human-headed hawk, flying down the funeral pit, bearing air and food to the mutilated body lying in the mummy-chamber. Here is additional confirmation that the pit designates the human body. Another Egyptian text, the Book of Am-Tuat (Division 20) describes the mutilation of the gods and their being cast down into pits of fire. Revelation tells of the horsemen, ten thousand times ten thousand, going forth to battle with those forms which had come up out of the smoke that ascended from the pit of the abyss, emitting fire. These may be taken as the forms of evil generated in the struggle between the gods and the animals whose natures are long in combat with each other.

Massey links the Egyptian Tepht, the abyss, with our “depth.” He equates it also with Tevthe, and that with the Babylonian Tiamat, as well as the old Egyptian underworld monster, Typhon, the Dragon of the Deep. As such it figured the original birthplace of creation, and in a more human application it meant the human body as the seat or birth-place of the spiritual life. For the body is composed of matter, the infinite abysmal mother of all things. Typhon, who brought forth her brood of chaos in the abyss, later brings forth the young Sun-god, the divine immortal soul. The figure in this connection is common, we are told, in Akkad, China, Egypt and inner Africa. It is but a step in etymology from Tepht to the Hebrew Tophet, the dark pit.

There were said to be “seven sons of the Abyss,”30 or the seven powers generated in nature, to be matched later by seven phases of growth in the human constitution – the ubiquitous seven in archaic literature.

The universal religious myth of the descent of the solar hero, ever typical of deity, into some dark abysmal region, emerging from it after ordeals of suffering, can have but one explanation: the incarnation of the hosts of light in the dense physical body.

Another earthly figure much used to type the dreary existence in the flesh was that of the “wilderness.” A variation of it was the “desert.” The people in the Typhonian darkness of Amenta were furnished a guide “through this wilderness.” The Quiché Popul Vuh portrays the ancestors of the race as wanderers in a wilderness upon their way to their final homestead. A Hawaiian legend has it that the progenitors “wandered in a desert wilderness until at last they reached the promised land of Kane” – Canaan!

Numbers (14:33, 34) reads: “Your children shall be wanderers in this wilderness even forty days, for every day a year.” The same book supplies another highly elucidative text (14:31, 32) which says: “Your little ones will I bring in, but as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness.” The spiritual meaning here adumbrated is that the earthly or carnal nature in which the gods took residence would be conquered and disintegrated, or die, as the substance of the old seed dies in the ground in generating its offspring, while only the new-born god, the “little ones,” the resurrected sons of dying fatherhood, would achieve the spiritual homeland of Canaan.

Elsewhere the term “desert in the Amenta of Egypt” is used to name the locality of bodily life. The people there are said to “dwell in darkness and black night.”

The wanderings of the Biblical Israelites are a symbolic graph of this spiritual and racial experience, and have no other meaning, historical or literal, whatever. Hagar’s fleeing into the wilderness under the compulsion of her situation, is but another similar picture of the same truth.

The hiding of the various Sons of God in a mysterious cave or secret earth of Amenta is but the mundane segment of a drama, the full action of which is involved in the grand play of forces and sweep of relations in higher spheres, as to the complete outline and significance of which we have not been fully informed by the archaic writers. Earth, it is clear, is but an appanage of heaven, and our history here is without full meaning when detached from its celestial base. The old books of Greece, Egypt, Chaldea, Persia, India are priceless for what they give us of this material.

It has been impossible in these excerpts entirely to avoid anticipation of the next symbol of earthly life, darkness. The body was pictured as the abode of night and gloomy shadows.

We have noticed Plotinus’ statement that in her descent the “soul was precipitated into a darkness profound and repugnant to the intellect,” which was obscured by it. The body is “night’s dark region” and the soul’s “sojourn on earth is thus a dark imprisonment in the body.”

One of the riddles of Greek mythology – why so intelligent a people as the Greeks symbolized deity as Bacchus, the god of intoxication – is solved by the keys here presented. Intoxication was used to image the befuddlement and mental darkness, the scattering of the god’s high intellectual powers in mundane life. Says Thomas Taylor:

“For Bacchus is the evident symbol of the imperfect energies of intellect, and its scattering into the obscure and lamentable dominions of sense.”31

And Revelation declares that even the Saints (the gods) have been made drunken with the power of the lower contacts. Soul had been intoxicated with the wine of sense.

The body is thought of as actually seizing souls. The Speaker in the Ritual cries to Ra:

“O deliver me from the god who seizes souls. The darkness in which Sekari dwells is terrifying to the weak.”32

In this darkness Osiris suffers, supplicating Ra for light. Ajax cries for light. Horus in his resurrection rises “from the house of darkness.” Sut (Satan), the twin of Horus, is portrayed imprisoning his brother the soul of light, in the realm of darkness. He is called “the power of darkness.” A dozen sections of the Pyramid Texts and the Records of the Past describe the journey of the soul through a “valley of darkness.” The place to which the soul in the Egyptian scripts was con- ducted was termed “An-ar-ef, the house of obscurity, the city of dreadful night.” The mole or shrewmouse was the animal symbol used by them to depict the god groping his earthly way in an underworld region of darkness. Horus, coming as deliverer, says: “I have sung praises unto those that dwell in darkness.” The chapter in which this occurs is entitled “the chapter of making the transformation into the god who giveth light in the darkness.” He comes to set prisoners free, and also, it is said, “to dissipate darkness.” Incarnation being necessary for the higher birth of the soul, an Egyptian text reads: “The soul is brought forth through the embrace of the Lord of Darkness. He is Babi, the Lord of Darkness.” In Ch. 175 “saith Osiris, the scribe Ani: Hail, Tmu! What manner (of land) is this into which I have come? . . . it is black as blackest night, and men wander helplessly therein. In it a man may not live in quietness of heart, nor may the longings of love be satisfied therein.”

The very name of the great Egyptian script, the Book of the Dead, hints at the realm of darkness from which the soul emerges in its resurrection; for the title, translated, means “The Coming Forth by Day,” – or into the daylight, ostensibly from some region of darkness.

Our Hebrew and Christian scriptures provide a multitude of fitting texts which might be used to enlarge vastly this résumé of the old material that points to the earthly body of man as the theological world of darkness. Notably there is that in Matthew (4:16) which recites:

“The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them that sat in the shadow . . . did the light spring up.”

And is it not the universal prayer of Christendom each Sabbath that the deific power should “enlighten our darkness”?

NOTES

1. Hindu, Tibetan, Platonic and other ancient systems are at one as to the accuracy of this item, difficult as it appears to us in our ignorance of cosmology and occult science.

2. Known also as Gandharvas, Suryas, Kumaras, Rudras, Adityas, Manasaputras, Agniswatha Pitris, and by some dozen or more other names.

3. The Natural Genesis, I, p. 315.

4. Hargrave Jennings: The Rosicrucians.

5. Quoted by Iamblichus: The Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 364.

6. The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato, II, p. 355.

7. Quoted by the editor in Iamblichus’ The Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 345.

8. Article by Thomas Taylor in Classical Journal, Vol. 16, p. 338.

9. Pagan and Christian Creeds, p. 132.

10. Tylor: Primitive Culture, I, p. 469. (Edn. 1903.)

11. An approach to this viewpoint is notable in a recent study of great importance by the English scholar, Lord Raglan, in his book, The Hero (Oxford University Press). The work presents evidence that the masks worn in olden celebrations were those of animals.

12. Massey: The Natural Genesis, I, p. 74.

13. Massey: The Natural Genesis, I, p. 74.

14. A fuller elucidation of this theme will be given at a later place when the profounder significance of mummification is dealt with. 15. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 231.

16. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 211.

17. Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 355.

18. That part swayed by mere sense intimation and superficial impression.

19. The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato, II, p. 475.

20. Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 179.

21. The Enneads, I, Bk. VI.

22. Rather the impulse of sense uncensored by critical thought.

23. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 103.

24. The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato, II, p. 476.

25. In Alexander Wilder’s Introduction to the Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, of Thomas Taylor, p. vxiii.

26. Be it noted, the use of the term “Gentiles” here bears out the interpretation (as the not fully humanized animal souls) given in a former place.

27. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 479.

28. Given in verse in The Book of Job as a Greek Tragedy, Horace M. Kallen, p. 165 ff.

29. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 508.

30. Incarnation Records, Vol. II. p. 131.

31. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 104.

32. Sekari, the god suffering diminution as he passed through incarnation.

Chapter IX

ALIVE IN DEATH

Such then was the archaic view of the origin of the soul from on high, its fall into the darkness and distractions of the body and its consequent submergence in carnal sense. And, drastic as is seen to be the necessary rehabilitation of all scripture on the basis of this revised understanding, it will be far overshadowed in theological importance by a still more radical reconstruction arising from the ancient use of the figure under which life in the body was mythically represented. For everywhere throughout antiquity earthly life was depicted as our death! It is of little avail that the portraiture be uproariously protested as not befitting such a condition of vivid life as is ours in the body. We may indignantly cast back upon ancient heads the obloquy of such an inappropriate metaphor. But our repudiation of their choice of figure falls entirely wide of the mark as affecting the meaning of ancient texts. The fact stands that they did call our life here death, and that when they spoke of “the dead” in sacred books, it is indubitable that they meant the living humans. The words “death” and “the dead” are used in the old scriptures to refer to living humanity in earthly embodiment. We scurrying mortals are “the dead” of the Bible and other sacred books, and the “death” spoken of there is our living existence here. We may reject the aptness of their symbolism, but it is past our prerogative to read a meaning into their books other than the one they intended; or to read out of them a meaning they consistently deposited therein. The astonishing point, of revolutionary significance for all religion, will receive textual treatment in the present chapter, and a later one will further vindicate the correctness of the thesis. It is perhaps the cardinal item of the whole theological corpus, the real “lost key” to a correct reading of subterranean meaning in esoteric literature. In ancient theology “death” means our life on earth.

Be the figure apt or be it considered unthinkable – as it will be at first by many – the texts of scripture will yield their cryptic meaning on no other terms. And the Bible is a sealed book mostly because these two words, “death” and “the dead,” have not been read as covers of a far profounder sense than the superficial one.

To be sure, it is death in a sense to be understood as dramatic and relative only. And it pertains to the soul in man, not to the body. Life and death are ever as the two end seats on a “see-saw.” As the one end goes to death the other rises to life. The death of the body releases the soul to a higher life; conversely, the “death” of the soul as it sinks in body opens the day of life to that body. The theological death of the soul in incarnation is a death that does not kill it in any final sense. It is a death from which it rises again at the cycle’s end into a grander rebirth. It is a death that ends in resurrection. And sixteen centuries of inane misconception of the resplendent glory of the greatest of all doctrines, the resurrection from the dead, will be resolved at long last into the bursting light of its true meaning when the dust of ignorance is brushed away.

For animal man the advent of the gods was propitious; indeed it was the very antithesis of death. The plunge into carnality that brought “death and all our woe” to the soul, brought life to the lower man. That was part of its purpose. The gods came to “die” that we mortals might “live.” They came that both they and we might have life more abundantly, but at what cost to themselves – a long “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Theirs was the death on the cross of flesh and matter.

The use of the term “death” must be in any case a comparative one, for there strictly is no death, in the form of total extinction of being, for any part of real being. All death, so called, is but a transition from state to state, a change of form, of that which is and can’t cease to be. Life and death are eternally locked in each other’s arms, for as Thales says, “Air lives the death of water; fire lives the death of air,” and so on. So body lives the death of the soul, and soul lives the death of the body. It thrives by virtue of that death. The germ and young shoot of any seed live the death of the body of the seed. The law of incubation brings high deities into their Hades, into Pluto’s dark kingdom. For the gods the cycle of incarnations was the descent into hell – their crucifixion, death and burial, in all archaic literature!

The material demonstrating this proposition must be of sufficient volume to obviate all doubt as to its validity. Upon its successful vindication hinges the final determination of meaning for hundreds of passages, and the ultimate interpretation of the main theses of all theologies. As will be shown later, it carries with it the purport of the resurrection doctrine, the cornerstone of religions. When we come to that climactic doctrine, it will be possible to locate with exactness what and where that tomb was whose gates and bars were rent asunder by the resurgent Lord. Modern theology little dreams, to this day, the truth back of its own mishandled, but still grandiose, symbols.

The incarnation, for the soul, was its death and burial. But it was a living death and a burial alive. It was an entombment that carried life on, but under conditions that could be poetically dramatized as “death.” Our inability to comprehend any but a physical sense of the word “burial” has left us easy victims of ancient poetic fancy, and led to the foisting upon ourselves perhaps the most degraded interpretation of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of deity in mortal life ever to be held by any religious group. Not even woodland tribes have so wretchedly missed the true sense of the great doctrines. Literalism in this instance has debased the human mind more atrociously than fetishism or totemism.

The textual testimony supporting the thesis is so voluminous that practical considerations forbid its full amassing. Nothing less, however, than the serried marshaling of much material will avail to carry conviction to minds unalterably set to opposing views.

Proclus advises us that the incarnating Egos were forewarned that their venture into flesh would be successful on condition that they achieved it “without merging themselves with the darkness of body.” They were to make a magnetic connection with the animal body by means of a linkage of their currents of higher life with the forces playing through the nervous system of the animal. They were thus to be in position to pour down streams of vital power into the body, but were not to sink their total quantum of divine intellection into the sense life of the beast. They were to hover over the physical life of the body, touch it with divine flame, but not be drawn down into it. To fall into this dereliction would be to sin, to lose a measure of their vivific life and eventually to die. For there were always two deaths spoken of in the books of the past. It was death, in the first place, for them to come under the heavy depression of fleshly existence. This was the first death. But to sink farther down and be lost in the murks of animal sensualism to a degree that made a return to their heavenly state next to impossible, was to suffer the “second death,” of which the soul ever stood in fear and terror in the old texts. The first death was the incarnation; the second was failure to rise and “return unto the Father.”

As Apuleius says, the soul, then, approached the “confines of death.” And on her approach, and at the moment of her divulsion from her seat on high, there ensued an intermediate or preparatory stage, a partial loss of consciousness termed by the writers a “swoon.” Corroboration of this experience is found in a very old document known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead (44):

“In the Bardo Thödol the deceased1 is represented as retrograding step by step into the lower and lower states of consciousness. Each step downward is preceded by a swooning into unconsciousness; and possibly that which constitutes his mentality on the lower levels of the Bardo is some mental element or compound of mental elements . . . separated during the swooning from higher and more spiritually enlightened elements. . . .”

This swooning on the downward path to earthly death is likened to a falling asleep. Jesus’ assertion that Lazarus was not dead but only sleeping, and needed only to be awakened, is a picturing of the same condition. Incidentally the same thing is said of the earth-bound Osiris in Egypt. “That is Osiris, who is not dead but sleeping in Annu, the place of his repose, awaiting the call that bids him come forth to day.” Massey comments:

“Osiris in Annu, like Lazarus in Bethany, was not dead but sleeping. In the text of Har-Hetep (Rit., Ch. 99), the Speaker, who personates Horus, is he who comes to awaken Asar (Osiris) out of his sleep. Also in one of the earlier funeral texts it is said of the sleeping Asar: ‘The Great One waketh, the Great One riseth . . .’ The Manes in Amenta were not looked upon as dead, but sleeping, breathless of body, motionless of heart. Hence Horus comes to awaken the sleepers in their coffins.”2

Horus says (Rit., Ch. 64): “I go to give movement to the Manes; I go to comfort him who is in a swoon,” – showing the perfect matching of Egyptian and Tibetan “necrological science.

The swoon attending each further step matterward deepens by degrees until it amounts to the full “sleep” or “dream” of mortal ex- istence, introduced by the incubus of body upon spirits of light. It is the Oriental Maya. The vivid awareness of existence which we feel so indubitably is to the ancient sages only a dull slumber and stupor in comparison with that life of ecstatic realism from which we were divulsed by the decree of our Fate.

Thomas Taylor expounds Greek Platonism as holding that the soul “in the present life might be said to die, as far as it is possible for a soul to die.” He asserts directly that the soul, until purified by “philosophy,” “suffers death through this union with the body.”

We have the whole idea most tersely expressed in the Gorgias of Plato:

“But indeed, as you say also, life is a grievous thing. For I should not wonder if Euripides spoke the truth when he says: ‘Who knows whether to live is not to die, and to die is not to live?’ And we perhaps are in reality dead. For I have heard from one of the wise that we are now dead; and that the body is our sepulchre; but that the part of the soul in which the desires are contained is of such a nature that it can be persuaded and hurled upward and downwards.”

If incarnate life is the burden of this death, then release from it must presuppose a liberation from the thralling “dead weight.” Our work aims to correct the misconceptions that have vitiated previous studies in eschatology. Reputed savants in the field give no evidence of having the remotest apprehension of textual meanings pertaining to this phase of theology. Even Massey and Taylor have fallen just short of that final step in comprehension which would have taken them into the temple of truth, the threshold of which they never quite crossed. They knew that the ancients styled this life “death,” but they were unable, apparently, to apply the connotations to the Bible and theology. The obsessions of current thought were too strong for them, and overrode the logic of their own premises.

The great Plotinus (Enneads I, lviii) gives us a clear presentment of the Greek conception:

“When the soul had descended into generation (from this first divine condition) she partakes of evil and is carried a great way into a state the opposite of her first purity and integrity, to be entirely merged in it . . . and death to her is, while baptized or immersed in the present body, to descend into matter and be wholly subjected to it. . . . This is what is meant by the falling asleep in Hades, of those who have come there.”

It is worth noting that he uses the word “baptized” to describe incarnation. To incarnate was to be plunged into the watery condition of the body! This is the whole of the meaning of the baptism in ancient theology!

To the above may be added a supplement from Pythagoras, according to Clement, “that whatever we see when awake is death; and when asleep a dream.”

It is sometimes true that archaic usage of the word “death” makes it cover the period following the occurrence of death in its common meaning, the demise of the body. Incarnation was regarded as a continuing experience, the periodical rhythm of release from the body no more breaking the sequence of lives than does our nightly sleep break the continuity of the experience of the days. But as our waking days are the important parts of our earthly activity, the nights being but interludes of repose and renewals of strength, so the positive incarnate periods of our larger lives are the primarily significant phases of our mundane history. The ancient seers both knew more about the subjective experiences of the soul when out of the body and were less concerned with them than modern Spiritualists. They regarded the phenomena of discarnate manifestation as but the more or less automatic reaction of the soul to the sum of its impressions in its last incarnation, a kind of reflex, threshing over the events of the life just closed. They would have regarded it as preposterous to use the vaporings of the spirits for the tenets of a religion. They were but the products of a mental automatism set up by the engrossments of the last life. The post mortem existence of the soul was only the hidden side of the life on earth, and regarded as comparatively inconsequential to the larger processes of conscious living. Theologically, “death” was the bodily life on earth, but comprising its two aspects of sleeping and waking, living and dying, in its comprehensive unity. Activity in the body during the waking phase of the “death” was alone determinative of destiny. By unfortunate diversion of the original cryptic sense, the unimportant portion of the experience, the interlude between lives, became the locale to which practically all religious values were shunted when esoteric knowledge was lost. The meaning of all religion has in consequence fled from earth, where it properly belongs and where alone its true value is realized, to heaven, where present focusing of meaning has little utility for man.

Taylor quotes the priests as testifying “that the soul is buried in body as in a sepulchre.”3 Alexander Wilder, in a note to Taylor’s Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries (p. 31), comments:

“Hades . . . supposed by classical students to be the region or estate of departed souls, . . . is regarded by Mr. Taylor and other Platonists as the human body, which they consider to be the grave and place of punishment for the soul.”

Virgil adds significant testimony. In the Aeneid, writing of that “interior spirit” which sustains the heavens and earth, men and beasts, “the vital souls of birds and the brutes,” he continues:

“In whom all is a potency . . . and a celestial origin as the rudimentary principles, so far as they are not clogged by noxious bodies. They are deadened by earthly forms and members subject to death; hence they fear and desire, grieve and rejoice.”

Plato’s able expounder Proclus, writing that the soul brings life to the body, says that “she becomes herself situated in darkness; and by giving life to the body, destroys both herself and her own intellect (in as great a degree as these are capable of receiving destruction). For thus the mortal nature participates of intellect, but the intellectual part, of death, and the whole, as Plato observes in the Laws, becomes a prodigy composed of the mortal and the immortal, of the intellectual and that which is deprived of intellect. For this physical law which binds the soul to the body is the death of the immortal life, but vivifies the mortal body.”

Wilder in his Introduction to Taylor’s Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries comments again:

“The soul was believed (by the Greeks) to be a composite nature, linked on the one side to the eternal world, emanating from God, and so partaking of Divinity. On the other hand, it was also allied to the phenomenal and external world, and so liable to be subjected to passion, lust and the bondage of evils. This condition is denominated generation; and is supposed to be a kind of death to the higher form of life. Evil is inherent in this condition; and the soul dwells in the body as in a prison or a grave.” It has been claimed in some quarters that the death here mentioned is simply Greek tropology for a state of spiritual decay into which mortal man sinks. But a proper view sees such degeneracy as the result of the incarnation, which was the occasion of it. The concrete and the moral situations do image each other; but it is a matter of vast importance which one is primary and casts the reflection. There was a descent in historical fact. From it flowed the moral delinquency.

Having seen the lucid presentation of the “death” philosophy in Greek systems, we turn to Egypt. Does the wisdom of this venerable nation support that of Greece? With such fullness and positiveness does it agree with Greek conception that dispute as to the legitimacy of the interpretation must henceforth be silenced forever. It is from these unfathomable wells of Kamite knowledge that we draw the water which nourishes our intellectual life. Again the volume of material is prodigious.

It must be prefaced that the Egyptian writings use more than one character to personate the incarnating god. We may find Osiris, or Ra himself, or Tum, Atum or Horus taking the role. Then there are the two characters which we meet most often, the “Speaker” and the Manes in the Ritual. These appear to be distinctly the human soul. Sometimes again it is represented as the “deceased,” again as the “Osirified deceased.” Besides, the names of four or more kings are used to stand for deity: Unas, Ani, Pepi and Teta, frequently with “the” prefixed.

It is definitely corroborative of the thesis here defended that the central god figure in Egyptian religion, Osiris, the Father, in distinction from Horus, the Son, is consistently assigned the functions, prerogatives and sovereignty of the “king of the dead.” He is hailed in a hundred passages as the Ruler of the Underworld, or as Lord of Amenta (Amenti, Amentiu), the Egyptian Hades, the correct locating of which region in theology is one of the major aims of this work. He is assimilable to the Greek Pluto, ruler of Hades, the dark underworld. That this dismal limbo of theology is actually our earth is a fact which has never once dawned upon the intellectual horizon of any modern savant, however high his name. Osiris, the “Speaker,” the “Manes,” the incarnating deity, is indeed the king in the realm of the dead. For we are those dead, and the god within us came to rule this kingdom, according to the arcane meaning of every religion. For the Egyptians called the coffin “the chest of the living.”4

A passage from Budge is of importance here:

“About the middle of the Ptolemaic period the attributes of Osiris were changed, and after his identification with Serapis, i.e., Pluto, the god of death, his power and influence declined rapidly, for he was no longer the god of life. In the final state of the cult of Osiris and Isis, the former was the symbol of death and the latter the symbol of life.”5

This change does not betoken what Budge supposes, but quite the contrary. It hints at the fact that the Egyptian conception of the character of Osiris as Lord of the Underworld of death began to weaken in the later days, as foreign influences crept in, and the profound esoteric meaning of “death” became obscured. The god’s influence as Lord of Death declined rapidly at this epoch, not because of the ascription to him of a new and untrue character, but because of the decay of the true comprehension of his place and function in the pantheon. His influence in his perennial office decayed because knowledge of him in that role had decayed. With many such misapprehensions must the battle for a sane grasp of the ancient wisdom contend. The actual issue has been beclouded at almost every turn.

In confirmation of our claim that death in the ancient usage did not imply extinction, the Manes in the Ritual (Ch. 30 A) says: “After being buried on earth, I am not dead in Amenta.” Horus knows that though he enters the realm of the dead, he does not suffer annihilation. He knows that he is that which survives all overthrow. Even though, as he adds, he is “buried in the deep, deep grave,” he will not be destroyed there. He will rise out of the grave of the (living) body in his final resurrection.

Such a passage as the following carries in its natural sense the allocation of the term “dead” to living inhabitants on earth, not to the spirits of the deceased: “The peoples that have long been dead (?) come forth with cries of joy to see thy beauties every day.”6 It pertains to the resurrection. Another text says: Tanenet is the burial-place of Osiris.” Tanenet, along with Aukert, Shekhem, Abydos, Tattu, Amenta and half a dozen others, is a designation for the earth as the place of burial for the soul living in death.

Cognate with the idea of death is the presumption of burial in a tomb, grave, coffin or sepulcher. Evidence of the prominence of these terms in relation to the descent into earth life is not wanting in the old texts. The matter is not left in any state of doubt or confusion. A sentence from Cocker’s Greek Philosophy speaks in terms of unmistakable directness: “The soul is now dwelling in ‘the grave which we call the body.’”7 Here is indeed the undebatable clarification of that poetic imagery, the confusion of which with the natural fact of bodily decease has cost Christianity its heritage of wisdom.

In the Egyptian records we have Osiris as the god who “descended into Hades, was dead and buried” in Amenta. Massey’s succinct statement covering the point is: “The buried Osiris represented the god in matter,” – not in a hillside grave. The hillside grave, however, was the typograph used to designate the non-historical burial in the body. What could be more pointed and conclusive than Massey’s other declaration: “In the astronomical mythology the earth was the coffin of Osiris, the coffin of Amenta, which Sut, the power of darkness, closed upon his brother when he betrayed him to his death”?8 “The coffin of Osiris is the earth of Amenta,” he says again.9 It is worthy of note that the shrine in the Egyptian temples, representing the vessel of salvation, was in the form of a funeral chest, the front side of which was removed so that the god might be seen. Chapter 39 of the Ritual contains a plea for the welfare of the incarnated soul: “Let not the Osiris-Ani, triumphant, lie down in death among those who lie down in Annu, the land wherein souls are joined unto their bodies.” So that it is quite apparent that the land in which souls lie down in “death” is this old earth of ours. For nowhere else are souls joined unto their bodies! This is the only sphere in the range of cosmic activity where this transaction is possible, and this fact is sufficient warrant for focusing upon it all that mass of vague meaning for which theologians have been forced to seek a locale in various subterranean worlds whose place is found at last only in their own imaginations.

Horus says in one text: “I directed the ways of the god to his tomb in Peqar . . . and I caused gladness to be in the dwellers in Amentet when they saw the Beauty as it landed at Abydos.”10 Abydos was claimed to be the place of entry to the lower world where the “dead” lived, but in this use it was another of those transfers of uranographic locality to a town on the map in some way appropriately symbolizing the spiritual idea involved. There was no actual entrance to an actual underworld at Abydos (or anywhere else), but to complete the astral typology a temple, tomb and deep well (of great symbolic value) had been constructed there to the god Osiris. It was mythically and poetically the door of entry to the lower world, or realm of death, Amenta. Budge does not realize that he is writing only of the historical adaptation of a spiritual allegory when he says:

“But about Osiris’ burial-place there is no doubt, for all tradition, both Egyptian and Greek, states that his grave was at Abydos (Abtu) in upper Egypt.”11

He argues that Osiris must have been a living king, who was later deified. This is not likely, as there is little to indicate that the Egyptian gods were other than abstract personifications of the powers of nature and intelligence. The legend that his body was cut into fourteen pieces, scattered over the land and then reassembled for the resurrection could have no rational application to the life of an actual king. Myth has been taken for history on a vast scale.

Another text carries straightforward information of decided value: “In the text of Teta the dead king is thus addressed: ‘Hail! hail! thou Teta! Rise up, thou Teta! . . . thou art not a dead thing.” 12 What can be the resolution of so evident a contradiction of terms – telling a dead king he is not dead – unless the new interpretation of “death” as herein advanced and supported be applicable?13 The souls as deities entered the realm of death, our world, but were not dead; philosophy dramatized them as such, however.

In a different symbolism the Eye of Horus, an emblem typifying his life and said to contain his soul, was stolen and carried off by Sut, the evil twin. Of this Budge says that “during the period when Horus’ Eye was in the hands of Sut, he was a dead god.” His regaining possession of his Eye symbolized the recovery of his buried divinity and his restoration to his original godhood. Horus elsewhere (Rit., Ch. 85) says: “I come that I may overthrow my adversaries upon earth, though my dead body be buried.” If such a declaration is not to be taken for a species of after-death spiritism, it can have logical meaning only in reference to the contention that the buried god is the soul in the fleshly body.

It is imperative to look next at the conceptions of the sphere of death that were expressed through the use of the term “underworld.” This region of partial death in which the outcast angels were imprisoned was styled the dark “underworld.” A variant name was “the nether earth.” It is often actually pictured as a subterranean cavern. It may be asked if it has ever occurred to any scholar of our time that “the underworld” was but another figurative appellation for the condition of life in the human body. Again a mass of data is available.

All nations of antiquity show in their literature traces of a legend in which the soul makes a journey through a dark underworld. The vagueness of its location, however, has failed to give any scholar an illuminating suggestion as to its totally figurative and unreal character. Nobody has ever seriously presumed to locate this dreary region, in spite of the fact that it was childishly regarded as an actual place. It was hazily associated with the grave or assumed to lie in some dim region into which the soul passed after death, somehow, somewhere “under,” but under what, it was not apparently ever determined. The cause of bafflement was the ineradicable assumption that its “underness” was to be oriented in relation to the earth! No one has caught the idea that its location was under the heavens, and hence that it was our own earth itself! The surface of the earth, man’s world, was assumed to be obviously not an “underworld.” But the problem of locating another limbo beneath it baffled theological speculation through the ages. The outcome is that the locale of Pluto’s shadowy kingdom has been hung indeterminately between the surface of the ground and the dubious dim region of after-death spheres. All the while a thousand texts point to its location in the physical body!

Lewis Spence cautiously admits that the court of the Mayan underworld seems to have been conducted on the principles of a secret society with a definite form of initiation, and that the Mysteries of Eleusis and others in Greece were concerned with the life of an underworld, especially dramatized in the story of Demeter and Kore.14 He admits that the Greek deities were gods of the dead. But he mars his tentative approach to the truth by advancing the conjecture that the Book of the Dead may have been the work of prehistoric Neolithic savages! We refrain from caustic comment, save to aver that if the Egyptian Book of the Dead was the product of Neolithic savages, the status of modern mentality which is as yet totally incapable of understanding its high message, must by inference lie a stratum or two below that level.

The Mystery Rituals did dramatize the life of an underworld, but the gods, as kings of this nether realm, were not subterranean deities. The gnomes and other nature sprites were the only “deities” that were believed to subsist beneath the surface of the physical earth. The gods of the underworld were always the gods of the dead. And as the souls of deceased mortals were in all religions asserted to ascent to heaven and never to remain in the burial ground with the corpse, it was again impossible to place the underworld down with the gnomes. But it seems next to incredible that academic diligence should have missed the plain correlation which would have made the descent of spirits from heaven equate the descent of all the divine heroes and sun-gods into the dark underworld – of earth.

From the great Egyptian Ritual, which so cryptically allegorizes this earthly death, we learn that the mystery of the Sphinx originated with the conception of the earth as the place of passage, of burial and rebirth, for the humanized deities. An ancient Egyptian name for the Sphinx was Akar.15 This was also the name for the tunnel through the underworld. And it is said that the very bones of the deities quake as the stars go on their triumphant courses through the tunnels of Akar (Pyramid Texts: Teta, 319). As the stars were the descending deities, the metaphor of stars passing through the underworld tunnels is entirely clear in its implication. The riddle of the Sphinx is but the riddle of mankind on this earth. The terms of the riddle at least become clearly defined if we know that the mystery pertains to this our mortal life, above ground, and not to our existence in some unlocalized underworld of theological fiction.

The entrance to Amenta, with its twelve dungeons, consisted of a blind doorway which neither Manes nor mortal knew the secret of and none but the god could open. Hence the need of a deity who should come to unlock the portals and unbar the gates of hell, and be “the door” and “the way.” The god came not only to unlock the door of divinity to human nature, but to be himself that door. The giving of the keys to bolt and unbolt the doors of the underworld was but the allegory of this evolutionary reinforcement of the human by the divine nature.

Descriptions of this dark realm of our present state are given in the texts. “It is a land without an exit, through which no passage has been made; from whose visitants, the dead, the light was shut out.” “The light they beheld not; in darkness they dwell.” Massey ventures the assertion that “the inferno, the purgatory and the paradise of Dante Alighieri are extant recognizably in the Book of the Dead as the domains of Amenta.”16

The first chapter of the Book of the Dead was repeated in the Mystery festivals on the day when Osiris was buried. His entrance into the underworld as a Manes corresponds to that of Osiris the corpse in Amenta, who represents the god rendered lifeless by his suffocation in the body of matter. The dead Osiris is said to enter the place of his burial called the Kasu. In this low domain of the dead there was nought but darkness; the upper light had been shut out. But Horus, Ptah, Anup, Ra and others of the savior gods would come in due time to awaken the sleepers “in their sepulchres,” open the gates and guide the souls out into the light of the upper regions once more. One of the sayings of the soul contemplating its plight in the underworld is: “I do not rot. I do not putrefy. I do not turn to worms. My flesh is firm; it shall not be destroyed; it shall not perish in the earth forever” (Ch. 154). Inasmuch as the flesh of the physical body most certainly will perish, rot, putrefy, and turn to food for worms in the only grave that Christian theology has been able to tell us of, the term “flesh” in the excerpt can’t be taken as that of the human body. And that it is not to be so taken is obvious from other passages. It refers to the substance of another body which does not rot away.

The same sense may distinctly be caught in the term “body” as used in the prayer uttered by the soul in the body when it says: “May my body neither perish nor suffer corruption forever.” Such a prayer directed to the physical body would be obviously irrelevant, expecting the impossible. Horus, on his way to earth to ransom the captives, says: “I pilot myself towards the darkness and the sufferings of the deceased ones of Osiris” (Ch. 78). Massey sums the discussion:

“The wilderness of the nether earth, being a land of graves, where the dead awaited the coming of Horus, Shu, Apuat (Anup), the guide, and Taht . . . as servants of Ra, the supreme one god, to wake them in their coffins and lead them forth from the land of darkness to the land of day.”17

Analysis of other types of representation will disclose the fact that the Egyptians, in their lavish use of animals as symbols, filled the underworld with a menagerie of mythical monsters. Without trespassing on the ground of later discussion, it may be briefly said that a number of animals – dragons, serpents, crocodiles, dogs, lions, bears, etc. – lay in wait in the underworld to devour the luckless Manes. What is the significance of this? Patently it figures the menace to the soul of its subjection to the constant beat upon it of the animal propensities, since it had taken residence in the very bodies of the lower creatures. In a measure detached, it was yet not immune to being drawn down into ever deeper alliance with the carnal nature. Ever to be remembered is Daniel’s statement that “his mind was made like the mind of an animal.”

Etymology supplies a sensational suggestion of the soundness of the present thesis in the similarity of the two words “tomb” and “womb,” which Massey avers rise from the same root. At all events it is rigorously in accord with the Greek theory that the body, as the tomb of the soul, is at the same time the womb of its new birth. In the Egyptian Ritual the soul is addressed as he “who cometh forth from the dusk, and whose birth is in the house of death.” This was Anu, Abydos, On (Heliopolis), or other uranographic center localized on the map, or the zodiacal signs of Virgo and Pisces. The Greek language bears striking testimony to the same kinship of the two words, as Plato points out in the Cratylus, in the practical identity of soma, body, and sema, tomb.

In the Christian Bible the textual evidence is multitudinous. A few excerpts only can be culled. First is St. Paul’s clarion cry to us ringing down through nineteen centuries: “Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon thee.” Job, combining his death with its correlative resurrection, exclaims: “I laid me down in death and slept; I awaked, for the Lord sustaineth me.” Paul cries in the anguish of the fleshly duress, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” And it is an open question whether the final phrase might not as well have been rendered “this death in the body.” And Jonah, correlative name with Jesus, cries from the allegorical whale’s belly: “Out of the belly of death have I cried unto thee, O God.” Paul again pronounces us “dead” in our trespasses and sins, adding that “the wages of sin is death” and “to be carnally minded is death.” It is sin that brings us back again and again into this “death” until we learn better. And the Apostle affirms that we are dead and that our life is hid with Christ in God. Our true life is as yet undeveloped, buried down in the depths of the latent capacities of being. The Psalms say that we “like sheep are laid in the grave,” though “God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave.” The death spoken of is at one place defined as “even the death of the cross,” when spirit is bound to the cross of matter and the flesh. Isaiah declares that “we live in darkness like the dead.” And Jesus broadcasts the promise that whosoever believeth on him, “though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Assurance is given (Peter 4:6) that the Gospel is preached “to them that are dead.” Would not such addresses to the dead, as noted in several of these passages, be absurd if not referable to the living on earth?

Then there is the ringing declaration of the Father God in the Prodigal Son allegory, rebuking the churlish jealousy of the obedient elder brother at the rejoicing over the wastrel’s return: “This my son was dead and is alive again.” The thing described here as death was just the sojourn in that “far country” – earth.

A most direct and unequivocal declaration, however, is found in the first verse of chapter three of Revelation: “Ye have the name of being alive, but ye are dead.” And this is at once followed by the adjuration to “Wake up; rally what is still left to you, though it is on the very point of death.” This is again a strong hint of the danger that the soul might be so far submerged under sense as to fail to rise again, and sink down into the dreaded “second death.”

But the most astonishing material corroborative of the thesis here propounded is found in St. Paul’s discussion of the problem of sin and death in the seventh chapter of Romans. The statements made can be rendered intelligible and enlightening only by reading the term “death” in the sense here analyzed. He says first that “the interests of the flesh meant death; the interests of the spirit meant life and peace.” And then he says: “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”

In this chapter Paul concatenates the steps of a dialectical process which has not been understood in its deep meaning for theology. It is concerned with the relation of the three things: the law, sin and death. He asks: “Is the Law equivalent to sin?” And he replies that sin developed in us “under the Law.” What is this mysterious Law that the Apostle harps on with such frequency? Theology has not possessed the resources for a capable answer, beyond the mere statement that it is the power of the carnal nature in man. It is that, in part; but the profounder meaning could not be gained without the esoteric wisdom – which had been discarded. This Law – St. Paul’s bête noir – is that cosmic impulsion which draws all spiritual entities down from the heights into the coils of matter in incarnation. It is the ever-revolving Wheel of Birth and Death, the Cyclic Law, the Cycle of Necessity. As every cycle of embodiment runs through seven sub-cycles or stages, it is the seven-coiled serpent of Genesis that encircles man in its folds.

Now, says the Mystery initiate, by the Law came sin, and by sin came death. Here is the iron chain that binds man on the cross. The Law brings the soul to the place where it sins and sin condemns it to death. Death here must mean something other than the natural demise of the body, for that comes to all men be they pure or be they sinful. Reserving a more recondite elaboration of the doctrine of sin for a later place, it may be asserted here that the great theological bugaboo, sin, will be found to take its place close along the side of “death” as the natural involvement of the incarnation itself. Sin is just the soul’s condition of immersion or entanglement in the nature of the flesh. And happily much of its gruesome and morbid taint by the theological mind can be dismissed as a mistaken and needless gesture of ignorant pietism.

Neither as animal below our status nor as angel above it can man sin. For the animal is not spiritually conscious and hence not morally culpable. And the angel is under no temptation or motivation from the sensual nature, which alone urges to “sin.” Only when the Law links the soul to animal flesh does sin become possible. Romans (7:7) expressly declares: “Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law . . . For without the law sin was dead.” Paul even says that at one time he lived without the law himself; this was before “the command” came to him. And what was this command? Again theology has missed rational sense because it has lost ancient cosmologies and anthropologies. The “command” was the Demiurgus’ order to incarnate. It is found in the Timaeus of Plato and Proclus’ work on Plato’s theology. Then the Apostle states the entire case with such clarity that only purblind benightedness of mind could miss it: “When the command came home to me, sin sprang to life, and I died; . . .” He means to say that sin sprang to life as he died, i.e., incarnated. And then he adds the crowning utterance on this matter to be found in all sacred literature: “the command that meant life proved death to me.” He explains further: “The command gave an impulse to sin, sin beguiled me and used the command to kill me.” And he proceeds to defend the entire procedure of nature and life against the unwarranted imputations of its being all an evil miscarriage of beneficence: “So the Law at any rate is holy, the command is holy, just and for our good. Then did what was meant for my good prove fatal to me? Never. It was sin; sin resulted in death for me to make use of this good thing.”18

The clarifying and sanifying corollaries of this explication and St. Paul’s material are so expansive that pause should be made to consider them. In this light it may be seen that the whole of the negative and lugubrious posture of theology as to “sin,” and “death” as its penalty, might be metamorphosed into an understanding of the natural and beneficent character of all such things in the drama. Ancient meaning has miscarried, with crushing weight upon the happy spirit of humanity; and rectification of such misconstruction is urgently needed.

In I Samuel (2:6) it is written: “The Eternal kills, the Eternal life bestows; he lowers to death and he lifts up.” Job says: “I shall die in my nest, and I shall renew my youth like the eagle.”

And a most significant verse from Isaiah (53) can be rescued from mutilation and sheer nonsense only by the application of the new meaning of “death.” Speaking of the divinity, it says that “He hath made his grave with the wicked and the rich in his death.” A marginal note is honest enough to tell us that the word “death” here used was in the plural number – “deaths” – in the original manuscripts. Here is invincible evidence that the word carries the connotation of “incarnations,” for in no other possible sense can “death” be rationally considered in the plural number. In one incarnation the Christ soul is cast among the wicked; in another among the rich. This is a common affirmation of most Oriental religious texts. And his body is his grave.

St. Paul says some man will ask how the dead are raised and in what body do they come. And Christian theology has stultified the sanity of its millions of devotees by giving the answer in the words of the Creed: “The resurrection of the body” – leaving untutored minds to understand the physical body, or the corpse. The only comment provoked is to say that the picture of the cemetery graves being opened at the last trump, and the “dead” (cadavers) arising to array them- selves in line before the tribunal of the judgment, has turned millions in disgust and revulsion away from the fold of orthodoxy. Paul states in the verses immediately following that the dead will rise in a spiritual body.

And then we face that climactic assurance that “the last enemy to be overcome is death.” In lack of the covert intent of the word, Christian thought has ever believed that in some way this promise meant we should overcome the incidence of bodily decease, and live on in the physical vessel indefinitely. This would paralyze evolution. It would wreck the Cyclical Law. The Trinity is the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer. Without the periodic destruction of form there could be no renewal of life in higher and better forms. Life would be imprisoned forever in matter, and choked to its real death. Its charter of liberty is its periodical release from forms that while they enable, they also limit. What, then, means the passage? If death is the incarnation, the significance is found in the assurance that at the conclusion of the cycle, when the spirit has mastered all its mundane instruction, it will be made a “pillar in the house of God and shall go no more out.” Its descents into the tombs of bodies will be at an end at last. “Death” will then be finally overcome.

In the Egyptian Ritual the soul rejoices in life, shouting, “He hath given me the beautiful Amenta, through which the living pass from death to life.” Amenta is this world, and the soul is pictured as running through cycles of descent from life to “death” and back again. The same sequence is set forth in the first chapter of Revelation: “I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore!” The Law precipitates us from the life above to the “death” down here, but lifts us up again.

There is no sublimer chapter in the entire Bible than the fifteenth of I Corinthians. And perhaps this treatment could not possibly be more fittingly concluded than with some of St. Paul’s magnificent utterances therein. It may give us at last the thrilling realization of their grandeur when grasped in the majestic sense of their restored original meaning. Need we be reminded that these words of the Apostle will ring from our own throats in ecstatic jubilee, when, victorious at last over “death” and the “grave,” we arise out of our final imprisonment in body and wing our flight like the skylark back to celestial mansions? “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

We have drawn enough material from the ancient fund now to have bountifully supplied the demand for “evidence” that in archaic philosophy the field of our life here is depicted as the dark cavern, the pit, the abyss, the bleak desert, the wilderness, the grave, the tomb, the underworld and hell of a life that migrated here from the skies. “We are a colony of heaven.” Our deific souls are at the very bottom of the arc of death, and can never be as dead again as they are now, and have been.

But stranger revelations await us still.

NOTES

1. Mistaken for the defunct human, but really the descending god.

2. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 846.

3. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 7.

4. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 152.

5. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, II, p. 306.

6. Question mark is Budge’s – showing how much the scholar has been confused by his failure to apprehend the technical theological use of the term by the Egyptians. Passage from the Book of the Dead cited by Budge.

7. Quoted by Thomas Taylor, Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 91 ff.

8. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 706.

9. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 868.

10. Quoted by Budge: Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, II, p. 8.

11. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, II, p. 67.

12. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, II, p. 69.

13. Cf. the raising of Lazarus.

14. Myths and Legends: Egypt, p. 121.

15. Later equated by Massey with Achor, the valley of Sheol, the Hebrew Hades.

16. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 415.

17. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 643-4.

18. Here would seem to be authentic rebuttal of the major premises of so much Oriental philosophy which builds on the general thesis that the whole of life on earth is evil, “a calamity to be avoided at all costs.” (Radhakrishnan: Indian Philosophy, Vol. I.)

Part 1 – Chapter I-IV
Part 2 – Chapter V-IX
Part 3 – Chapter X-XV
Part 4 – Chapter XVI-XIX
Part 5 – Chapter XX-XII