MAN AND GOD
By G.H. Fra. N.O.M. (Dr. W.W. Westcott)
The circle of Members of the Adeptus Grade of the Order R.R. et A.C. is a fraternity of students of the Hermetic Sciences and of the Hermetic Art.
The chain which unites us is in the acceptance of the doctrines and wisdom contained in the Rituals of our Order. The same assertion is true of the Order of the G.D., that preliminary course of instruction through which all must have passed. The common ground of Brotherhood is the sincere acceptance of the Hermetic ancient philosophy, as expressed in the Ritual, and Pictorial and Symbolic representations which have been tendered to us at each stage of our progress.
The G.D. teaching has reference mainly to Religion and to Philosophy; but it is of course obvious that our Rituals are but outlines and landmarks in the world of thought.
The vacant spaces each member fills for himself or leaves blank.
A little consideration will assure us that these vacant spaces are filled by individual members in very different manners. Every shade of unorthodoxy is represented among us; and some of us are almost orthodox, yet we are all sensible of a mighty tie which binds us together: this is our Ritual Wisdom.
Whence these rituals come, through whom they come, and even who are our present Temple Chiefs are all matters of secondary interest. The personal element of rule is but a question of the arrangements of time, place and finance, and there is no claim of authority by any beyond the accepted Ritual. You who are here today to listen to this lecture (or you who read it hereafter), have come to this Hall only to seek from my words further suggestions of thought on Occult teachings, you are well aware that I represent myself alone, in what I say, and that you are each perfectly free to take what seemeth good unto you and to reject the refuse. In my honour to the Order in which I bear a part, I have always made the clearest distinction between the Ancient Ritual and our modern comments, and this distinction you must always bear in mind, for it must not be considered that the doctrines of any single elder or ruler are necessarily all true to the Hermetic faith. All individuals go astray even if some go farther than others. The Order here then has no Pope nor Popess and our Bible at every stage is imperfect; we are fellow students, still crying for the Light; and every lecture given here is but the expression of personal opinion, from someone who has far longer than most trod the path of Hermetic progress, and the proportion of doctrine or fact which you accept must be estimated by yourselves, for yourselves—it is a duty you owe to yourselves to work out your own transmutation—to change the powers of physical sensuous life into the refined spiritual faculties of Adeptship, in truth as well as in name. As senior Adept among you, just now, my duties are to keep you to the doctrines of our Rituals, as far as they go,—to leave you quite free where they do not lead, but to stimulate your efforts in the search for the Philosophic Gold by occasional short essays of my own, which although quite without authority, will suggest subjects and lines of thought which those who have gone before you have found fruitful of high ideals.
I am about to take, today, a leaf from the clerics and say something on two texts, from the Hebrew Bible; and so you are all free to think as you please about the subject.
My opinion is that a part is historical, and a part of the history is allegorical and that while it was intended as a text book for the populace, yet there are in it many references to an esoteric creed held by the priests of the Nation.
It seems to me that the Divine Names of the Hebrew Volume especially hide and yet reveal a glimpse of the secrets of Divine power, majesty and governance. Occult Science has in every age seen mighty mysteries in the name Jehovah. Now the two texts I am about to refer to, alike, allude to the great name Elohim.
The first text is found in Exodus XXXII, Verse I, and was as I will remember, used as a text by my G. H. Fra. D.D.C.F. in a lecture he gave ten years ago to the Hermetic Society of my dear Friend Anna Kingsford—it is the words of the Israelites to Aaron, when Moses had gone up to seek God.
Make us Elohim which shall go before usí, or, let us make Gods to help us, to form our ideals. The other text is in Genesis I, 26, Veamar Elohim Nosher Adam Be Azelinunu Re demuthun. And the Elohim said let us make maní-íin our image and after our likenessí. Note the contrast, and alternation of expression. The men cried let us make gods. The Gods said let us make men. We are here seeking gods, or divine ideals, and we are making men; for men make themselves and they make their own gods.The Poet sings:
The Ethiop gods have Ethiop eyes
Thick lips, and woolly hair;
The gods of Greece were like the Greeks
As keen, as cold, as Fair
A modern philosopher has written “The Gods may have made man, but men have made their own Gods, and a pretty mess they have made of it”. Let us be careful what gods we make for ourselves, and on what pedestals we place them.
The great Jehovah may have made man in the Garden of Eden, it matters not to me; but I know I make myself, and I know you are hourly making yourselves—the child is father to the man indeed, quite as surely as that the man is father of the child —a mighty mystery. Now Moses had gone up into the holy mountain to seek divine help: this Sinai was the Mountain of God—the Mountain of the Caverns, the Mountain of Abiegnus, the mystic Mountain of Initiation—that is of divine instruction. Even so do we seek inspiration in the mystic Mountain, passing through the wilderness of Horeb, that period life which is at first a desert to us, as we cast aside worldly joys, and seek to pass through the Caverns—our Vault, to union with the spiritual powers above us, which send a ray of light to illiumine our minds and to fire our hearts, the spiritual centre, with an enthusiasm for the higher life of greater self sacrifice, more self-control—by which means alone can man reach up to the Divine and become one with the All self—the great OneAll.
Our V.H. Sor. S.S.D.D. has in an earlier Roll pointed out this passing through the desert, and that volume of beautiful thoughts, the Voice of the Silence alludes to the same period of trial, which must precede success in the attainment of the Higher Life—Light on the Path too, well portrays the period of transition, when by the energy of enthusiasm the inspired pupil casts aside wordly ambition and the joys of life, the pride of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and stands seeking the foothold of the first step of the mystical ladder, whose ascent can fill the heart with such sublime aspirations that the way is no longer steep, nor the path dreary, and when the dawning Sun of Tiphareth, shedding a ray of splendour upon the Path, encourages the toiler to the consummation devoutly to be desired. I have said that we make our own gods, and this is a great secret truth. Moses made his God, and impressed his ideal upon the people he led—Mohomet formulated his own idea of God, and of post mortem union with God, and of a Heaven where men are visitors to a vast Supernal Harem. Jesus taught his idea of his Father, and his suggestions have tinctured the God ideal of millions; but the mere adherence of the millions to any doctrine is but slender evidence of its truth, for as Carlyle has said, the majority of men are fools—Man does not alone formulate a Deity, but designs also a contrast to our notion of Supernal greatness, knowledge and power. So does Genesis, for there we find Jehovah thwarted by the Serpent; we find in the book of Job that the Supreme One was lead into folly or ingratitude or worse, by Satan who came before him among the Sons of Godí and by dint of applying to Job every earthly suffering, sought to degrade him before his Master. We find the Evangelists describing a Satan only second to Jesus, who had power to promise, and, we must suppose, to confer upon Jesus, either Lordship of the World or a divine supremacy over matter,—if he would but tender a nominal submission.
We find the mediaeval European priest formulating the grotesque horned and tailed human demon, and lastly we are instructed concerning the Qabalistic enumeration of the Evil and Averse Sephiroth. Are not these all human ideals, and if we were but philosophic at heart, should we not confess that these notions are but futile attempts to express the unknown and unknowable? No man can go beyond his own powers, and if we do but formulate as divine our own highest ideal not much harm may be done, so long as we grant equal powers of formulation to our brothers.
But in respect to Evil Beings, let us forbear, and beware of speculating or designing forces contrasted to our high ideals; for the mind has a creative force we but little know of, or understand, and in our ignorance we may create in our own auras evil personalities in spaces that might have remained vacant.
Never risk the creation of Evil forces, let us avoid and repel all the evil promptings that attack us with firmness, courage and decision—but avoid arrogance and impertinence, for even the so-called evil forces, the contrasted powers have functions to perform, and even the evil forces may help forward the good, as is so beautifully alluded to in our Adeptus Ritual. Suffice it to say, that every man has a dual nature, or every man has dual forces—Yetza ha Ra-Yetzer ha Job—attendant upon him; or as the Theosophist prefers to put the matter, man has a higher and a lower manas, and the destiny of any individual is within limits under his own control.
The general result of this present life may be upward or downward, for Man has Free Will, within limits, and very expansible limits too. God, or the Divine Powers, did indeed design and constitute the plan of Manís constitution, origin and destiny, and it is but of slight moment, whether in philosophy we view Man as a Ternary, a Septenary or as a Decad, but it is of vital importance to remember that with Free Will comes personal responsibility, and that every thought and act; that we are daily and hourly making the future history of ourselves, and piling up destiny whose realisation cannot be baulked by divine interposition nor changed by a maudlin sentimental repentance, nor by the surreptitious substituted sufferings of others. The type of man may indeed be viewed as emanating from the Elohim of Life, from the High Septenary of Powers, and his constitution may be in elementary form allotted to the Sun as the Giver of Vital Fire,—to the Moon for the Astral Mould of Form, to the Earth for the Material body: the Planets and Stars may influence manís form, stature and tendencies, but the destiny of the Thinker will depend upon the Thoughts. This is all true of man as a type of Creation,—Man as an Individual hourly makes himself—One life makes another. There may be a final Heaven, a final rest, a re-absorption into Deity, but this is not yet. The ladder of progression from earth to heaven must be climbed, before the foot can attain the summit. Some egos may go up rapidly, some may pass slowly, self exertion is the measure of success.
Let us then make Man-make the Divine Man out of the Human Man. Let us create the Hermetic ideal man from the material sensual man. It is our bounden duty to rend the Veil Parokethí and to let our human intellect attain to the perception of the Holy of Holies which shines within us from above. For now we see us in a Glass darkly, but with the Veil rended, we shall see God face to face.
How have the Alchemists of old, when passing from the physical, drawn the picture of the Souls transmutation or translation to eternity from time,—how have they also figured this Soul Growth and Development.
They wrote in beautiful allegory:
The Heart of man is as the Sun, the reception organ for the Divine Ray of spiritual intuition descending unto Man. The Brain of Man is as the Moon,—the source of human intellect. The Body of Man is the Earthy vehicle.
Let the sun impregnate the Moon, or let Spiritual Fire prompt the human intellect—and let the result fructify in the womb of a purified Body, and you will develop the Son of the Sun, the Quintessence, the Stone of the Wise, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.