CONCERNING THE SYMBOLISM OF SELF-SACRIFICE AND CRUCIFIXION CONTAINED IN THE 5°=6° GRADE
By G. H. Frater D.D.C.F. (S.L. MacGregor Mathers)
This lecture was delivered on Good Friday, March 31st, 1893, to the Adepti in College Assembled.
Dealing first of all with the diagrams in the First Order and proceeding upwards, it will be noticed that in the lowest Grade in the Outer (0°=0°) there are no diagrams properly so called, but that on the two Pillars is depicted the symbolism of the passage of the Soul from the Egyptian Ritual of the Dead: this being as it were a synthetical aspect to be developed and explained with the advance of the candidate through the various stages.
After the first Grade comes the 1°=10°, where we find the first form of the Sephiroth in the Tree of Life; —this is the representation of the Flaming Sword descending, but it is not until the 2°=9° comes that we begin to find the actual symbolism of self sacrifice.
The 2°=9° Altar Diagram, then, represents the Serpent of Wisdom twined through the Paths. In the 4°=7° Grade, however, you are shown the same Serpent, its representation being that of the Serpent Nechushtan. This was the Serpent of Brass that Moses made in the Wilderness, and which was turned around the central Pillar of Mildness,—having three cross bars upon it,—representing a species of triple cross.
Dealing now with the Altar Diagram of the 3°=8° Grade, it will be seen that Adam is the Tiphereth part: wherein he is extended. That is to say that the form of the man is projected from there.
The figure of Eve stands in Malkuth in the form of the Supporter.
The first ideal form of the Man is in Adam Kadmon—behind the Kether form and, as it were, the prototype of the Tiphereth form. This Tiphereth answers to the letter Vau of the Holy Name, as representing the Prince. The letter Vau also represents the number Six and Adam was created on the Sixth Day, for Tiphereth is the symbol of the Creation. Furthermore, the Hexagram consists of the two forms Fire and Water;—i.e. the ideal Fire and the ideal Water; the Spirit and the Water of Creation,—the spiritual Ether and the Ethereal Fire (the Fire of the Holy Spirit). Thus, in the Creation the Man is extended from Tiphereth i.e. the moment Adam is created, that is the beginning of the reflection of the lower Triad, and, finally, of Malkuth. Eve is the synthesis of Creation and represents the Mother of Life, as the name ChaVaH is. The 3°=8° diagram thus represents the establishment of life, i.e., created life, and the Good and Evil is represented in Malkuth, and it is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because it is the balance point between Good and Evil: for in the material body we are placed to give the victory to which we will. Hence the significance of the words of the Serpent, ‘Ye shall be as Gods, knowing Good and Evil’. But the knowledge of Evil brought with it the descent into the Qlipoth, and although Malkuth is directly involved in the ‘fall’, the Sephiroth immediately above cannot be said to have actually entered into the knowledge of Evil. Therefore in the allegorical account of the Creation in Genesis, it is said that Man is checked from putting forth his hand to take of the Tree of Life, so as not to involve the higher Sephiroth in the ‘Fall’, which, (he being unbalanced in himself) would only have precipitated disaster.
In the 4°=7° Diagram we find represented the Fall and the consequent rise of the Dragon, which in the 3°=8° Diagram is represented coiled beneath Malkuth in the Kingdom of the Shells; but it only raises its heads to the Sephiroth by right of the Crowns of the Kings of Edom.
These latter represent the Worlds of unbalanced force before the Creation is established. They furthermore symbolize the places of the Sephiroth which are hollowed and before the light fills the cavities.1 ‘Before all things were the Waters, and the Darkness, and the Gates of the Land of Night.’ Note also the War of the Titans who rise and fight against Jupiter.
The Edomite Kings, therefore, are not altogether evil, but they are partly connected with Evil. They are the Forces of Restriction.
The result, therefore, on a higher plane, in the Tree, is that the Great Serpent rises to Daath, and if the Four Worlds be placed upon the Tree itself, it will be observed that the cutting off by the Serpent is between Yetzirah and Briah. Thus Evil cannot arise into the World of Briah, or indeed transcend the limits of Yetzirah. But if we seek for the correspondence of Evil in the Worlds of Briah and Atziluth, it will be found to consist in a lesser form of Good—a limiting, restricting, and binding Force without which you cannot have Form on the higher planes. It is only in the Worlds of Yetzirah and Assiah that the analogue of this principle becomes absolutely Evil.
This idea was expressed by the Gnostics when they said that the Achamoth2 attempted to comprehend the Pleroma, and could not understand it, and from the grief of her were formed the demons and the evil spirits.
If therefore we seek to institute an analogy between the Microcosm it will be seen that the Nephesch refers to Malkuth and Assiah. Ruach will refer to Yetzirah, which is the World of Formation; therefore the formative principle operating in Ruach gives form to all ideas, and is that which weighs, balances, and works in things. Ruach can also have an evil side.
Neschamah equals the higher aspirations of the Soul, which aspire to the ideal. There can be no positively evil side to Neschamah: —there will only be a higher or lower aspiration.
If the Ruach overpowers the Neschamah; if the Neschamah seeks the lower good, both will be ruined. The following of a false idea cannot be said to be exactly evil, but is a lower Good than it should be.
Neschamah will answer to the World of Briah:—so also will Chiah, which is allotted to Chokmah; but you cannot touch the Yechidah part of you with your Ruach,—you must use the consciousness of the Neschamah. This Yechidah will, together with Chiah, be the ‘Higher Genius’, though this again will not be the Highest Self. For in and behind Kether will reside a part of the being, which it is impossible to understand, and which one can only aim at; this is the Highest Soul, and answering to the highest part of Yechidah, cannot be touched by Neschamah. There must be a mode of transferring the synthesis of the consciousness making up the Man to this upper Sephirah. The Fall, which cut away the higher from the lower Sephiroth in Daath, was also our descent into this life, as it were, from that Upper and Higher Soul. Therefore our object is to get into contact with that again, which is only to be done through the Neschamah, which is the Divine Mother of the Soul,—our Aima.
When the Candidate enters the Vault and kneels down at the second point, he does so at the centre of the Altar above the symbolic form of the Adept, who is the synthesis of the sides of the Vault, whence he has come forth and occupies a central position between Kether and the World of the Shades,—being there protected by the rising glory of the Golden Cross and the Rose. Then this Prayer is said: ‘Unto Thee, Sole Wise, Sole Mighty, and Sole Eternal One, be Praise and Glory for Ever’. Now it must be the Macroprosopus, the Amen, who is addressed here,—the Lord of Kether who has permitted the Aspirant who now kneeleth before Him to penetrate thus far into the Sanctuary of His Mysteries (which is in the Centre of the Universe). Not unto us, but unto His Name be the Glory (which is the Name YHVH with the addition of the letter Shin). ‘Let the influence of Thy Divine Ones descend upon his head,’ (These Divine Ones are Angelic Forces, and the Higher Self is in the nature of the Angelic Forces, as the Highest Self is in that of the Divine One.), ‘and teach him the value of Self sacrifice, so that he shrink not in the hour of trial, but that thus his name may be written on high’ (that is, that the Divine NAME formulated in him may be brought up, as it were, to the heights) ‘and may stand in the Presences of the Holy One’ (which Genius will be a mighty Angelic Power, and in form far different from the petty personages we are here) ‘in that hour when the Son of Man is invoked before the Lord of Spirits and his Name in the Presence of the Ancient of Days’.
This will be the synthetical form of the Son of Man, the BEN ADAM, who is the synthesis of the Ruach of the Universe; in other words, the allusion is to the Great God of the World of Yetzirah, or the Microprosopus, the Son of the first Adam when he is invoked before the Lord of Spirits, which can be but in Kether; and his Name in the Presence of the Ancient of Days. ‘He Who is ancient before the Gods, ancient before time, ancient before the formation of the Worlds, He the ETERNAL AMON—or even He Who is before AMON, and Whom the plumes of Amon’s headdress only touch’.
Now the foregoing partly represents the mode in which the Initiate becomes the Adept:—the Ruach directed in accordance with the promptings of the Neschamah keeps the Nephesch from being the ground of the Evil Forces, and the Neschamah brings it (the Ruach) into contact with the Chiah, i.e., the Genius which stands in the Presence of the Holy One (=the Yechidah=the Divine Self), which stands, as it were, before the synthetical God of All Things. That is the only real way to become the Greatest Adept, and is directly dependent on your life and your actions in life.
And upon the lid of the Pastos this process is symbolically resumed: there we see the suffering Man, pitiful and just, before whose justice and purity the heads of the Dragon fall back, but on the upper half there is depicted a tremendous and a flaming God, the fully initiated Man,—the Adept who has attained his Supreme Initiation.
It will be noticed that in the 4°=7° Diagram the heads of the Dragon have seized the Sephiroth but, as before remarked, on the lid of the Pastos they are falling back from the figure on the Cross—they are dispossessed only by the sacrifice of the Lower Self.
Recall to your mind that passage in one of the Eddas: ‘I hung on the Tree three days and three nights, wounded with a spear, myself a sacrifice offered to my (Highest) Self,—Odin unto Odin.’ It will furthermore be noticed that this way of looking at the matter at once makes a reconciliation between the account in the Gospel of the Christ as a calm, peaceful, and pitiable Man, and the representation in the Apocalypse of a tremendous and flaming God. A glance at the top half of the Pastos shows the descent as a Flaming Sword which casts out the evil,—the whole surrounding being white with brilliance. ‘And He had in His right hand Seven Stars… and the Seven Stars represent the (Arch)angels of the Seven Churches’, or Abodes in Assiah, at His feet…
The life of Nations is like the life of men;—they are born, become intellectual, direct that intellect to black ends,—and perish. But every now and then, at the end of certain periods, there are greater crises in the World’s history than at other periods, and at such times it becomes necessary that Sons of God should be incarnated to lead on the new era of the Universe. I do not affirm that Christ was necessarily a man who obtained Adeptship in that incarnation, but rather one who had obtained Adeptship and come down to be incarnated again to lead up the new era. It was, however, necessary in the crucifixion of so great a Soul,—so that the form might actually suffer,—that everything except the Nephesch should be withdrawn, which would be the reason for the cry of the Nephesch, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ For the Nephesch which was temporarily abandoned in this case was the cloak of that incarnation. In other words, the only mortal part about the Man, or the God, and then only after incurring that physical death, as it were, could the other divine parts suddenly come down and make it the resurrected or glorified body, which, according to the description, had after the Resurrection the apparent solidity of the ordinary body and the faculties of the Spirit body. Because if you can once get the great Force of the Highest to send its Ray clear down through the Neschamah into the mind, and thence, into your physical body, the Nephesch would be so transformed as to make you almost like a God walking on this Earth.
The Ruach, then, has to undergo a certain check and suffering in order to attain its Apotheosis—which is the Work of our Adept.
In the fully Initiated Adept, the Nephesch is so withdrawn into the Ruach that even the lowest parts of these two principles cease to become allied to the body and are drawn into the first six Sephiroth. This is again brought out in the Obligation, where you say, ‘I pledge myself to hereby give myself to the great Work, which is so to exalt my lower nature that I may at length become more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite myself to my Higher and Divine Genius.’ If it is a very great thing to unite yourself to the Genius, how much more so must it be to unite yourself to the God that is behind it!
Looking at the Pastos, it will be seen that it represents a kind of triple cube, the whole of which is placed between Light and Darkness. The lid is half Light and half Darkness (the upper end is the symbol of Light, and the lower the symbol of Darkness), while the sides have the Colours placed between the Light and the Darkness. At the head is placed a Golden Greek Cross, representing the Spirit and the Elements, and a Red Rose of seven times seven Petals, and there are four Rays which go out from it. But at the foot,—that on which the feet rest as if they were exalted by it,—is the Cross exalted on a Pedestal of Three Steps, viz. the Obligation Cross. This latter is also to an extent represented on the top in the crucified form, and symbolises the voluntary sacrifice of the Lower Will, which is incidental to allying the intellect with the higher aspirations and to the establishment of your consciousness therein:—thus if the ordinary consciousness were centred in the Ruach, you could touch the Neschamah, while if it were in the latter, you could touch the Genius.
Now this transference of consciousness from Ruach to Neschamah is one object of the ceremonial of the 5°=6° Ritual:—it is a thing which will be more readily understood when the Grade of Adept Adeptus Minor is reached. It is especially intended to effect the change of consciousness into the Neschamah, and there are three places where it can take place. The first is when the Aspirant is on the Cross, because he is so exactly fulfilling the Symbol of the Abnegation of the Lower Self and the Union with the Higher Self:—and also there is the Invocation of the Angel H.V.A.
The second place is when he touches the Rose on the representative of C.R. in the Vault, when he has taken on himself the symbols of suffering and self-sacrifice, and says that his victory is in the Cross of the Rose.
The third place is when he enters the Vault in the Third point and kneels down and the Chief Adept says:—’I am the Reconciler with the Ineffable. I am the Dweller of the Invisible. Let the White Brilliance of the Divine Spirit descend.’
In these three cases a possible exchange of the consciousness from the Ruach into the Neschamah is initiated, so that whether he understands it or not, the Aspirant actually approaches his own Genius.3
The most complete part of the actual contact is in the Third point, where the Chief Adept says:—’I am the Resurrection and the Life! He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die.’ I.e., if you can live at will in the Neschamah and touch the Genius, you will have made a great step towards the divine Elixir, for you will be worthy to sit with the Gods, and that which you drink of is the real Elixir, the Elixir of the Spirit of Life.
Then the Second Adept says:—’Behold the Image of the Justified One, crucified on the Cross of the Infernal Rivers of Daath,’ and the Third Adept shows deific antithesis, —the Exaltation into the Divine. Then the Chief Adept says again:—’I am the First and the Last’—the Aleph and the Tau and the Yod and Heh Final of the Sacred Name,—’I am He that liveth but was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen’, that is using the name of the Egyptian Deity AMON, or Amen, who represents the Ideal God Force,—’and I hold the Keys of Death and of Hell’ (because if you stand on Malkuth and keep your touch with the Gods, you hold the Keys of that which is below).
But the Lower Self all this time has an existence, for it certainly is not quite eliminated:—it is cast forth from the Nephesch, yet preserving a link with it, it goes down into the Qlipoth, and in this connection, it is well to observe that what may be really Evil on this Earth Plane, may be even as a God among the Demons.
The words ‘He descended into Hell’ have such a significance.
This Third point then represents the Attainment of the Divine:—and the Second Adept proceeds to say—’He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the Assemblies’, (i.e., in Malkuth) and if the Voice of the Divine is found in Malkuth, it must find its echo in the Realms beneath.
Then follows the Exaltation into Neschamah of the Consciousness of the Chief Adept, whose Voice seems as if he were symbolically standing with his head in Atziluth, whence his Voice reverberates through the Worlds, sinking down below Malkuth unto the Dominion of the Shells, and he says:—’For I know that my Redeemer liveth’ (the Redeemer is He that brings again) ‘and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the Earth. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me etc.’ This whole passage of the Chief Adept is formed of a collection of utterances which are, as it were, the speeches of the Great Gods, which he can only hear when he is still further exalted into Kether. ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ is the Reflected Triad. ‘No Man cometh unto the Father but by Me.’ Then the Neschamah speaks; down to ‘I have entered into the Invisible.’ Then it is as if the Consciousness went into the Genius, which says ‘I am the Sun in His rising; I have passed through the hour of Cloud and of Night.’
Then follows:— I am Amon, the Concealed One, the Opener of the Day’,—like the Great God in Atziluth—’I am Osiris Onnophris, the Justified One’, who is perfected in the Balance and risen above all considerations that come from Maya, or illusion, and Who seeks only the eternal life from above, and then, as if in a supreme moment ‘I am the Lord of Life, triumphant over Death. There is no part of Me that is not of the Gods.’ (That is the Voice of Kether). This again is followed by a synthetical culmination, as if all the Divine Ones united in the utterance: I am the Preparer of the Pathway, the Rescuer unto the Light! Out of the Darkness, let the Light arise!’
Then the Aspirant is prompted to say:—’Before I was blind, but now I see’,— representing again the blindness to the Neschamah Consciousness and the passage into this.
Whereupon the Chief Adept says:—’I am the Reconciler with the Ineffable! I am the Dweller of the Invisible! Let the White Brilliance of the Divine Spirit descend!’
The Aspirant is now told to rise an Adeptus Minor of the Rose of Ruby and the Cross of Gold, in the Sign of Osiris Slain,—and then ‘We receive thee as an Adeptus Minor in that Sign of Rectitude and Self Sacrifice.’
The affirmation of the three parts is then proceeded with—The Chief Adept says:
‘Be thy Mind open to the Higher.’ Second: ‘Be thy Heart a Centre of Light’, and Third: ‘Be thy Body the Temple of the Rosy Cross.’
The Pass Word is then announced, which is formed from the Mystic Number of the Grade, 21,—this Pass Word, however, is the Divine Name of Kether, Eheieh,—and it is used as the Pass Word of this Grade of Tiphereth in order to affirm the connection between the two.
Then the Chief Adept says that the Keyword is I.N.R.I. The three Adepts themselves represent Chesed, Geburah and Tiphereth. The Creator, the Destroyer and the Sacrificed One, ISIS, APOPHIS and OSIRIS = the name IAO. The Symbol of Osiris Slain is the Cross; L is the Sign of the Mourning of Isis; V the Sign of Typhon and Apophis; X the Sign of Osiris Risen; = LVX, the Light of the Cross, or that which symbolises the Way into the Divine through Sacrifice. So that the symbolism in its entirety represents the Exaltation of the Initiate into the Adept.
1 The Light which comes down and fills the cavities is to be found allegorically set forth in the story of the usurpation of the younger brother in the story of Esau and Jacob.
2 The Gnostics called this Achamoth, but probably this was a corruption of Chokmutha.
3 There are some cases where the Genius may have attained a height and fallen; that is when, having touched the Ruach in one incarnation, it has been so wrought upon by the sufferings of the lower part that it has for the moment consented to slacken the tension of their Union. Now if the Genius part, instead of identifying itself with the God part, identifies itself too much with the Neschamah, a Fall of the Genius takes place, which is not altogether evil, but may entail a certain evil effect.