will be well, before concluding, to give an instance at length of the kind
of interpretation of which the Bible is not only susceptible, but on which
it insists as indispensable to the true understanding of it. The instance
proposed is the interpretation of that which the Bible recounts in the form
of a history, as the indispensable preliminary to and condition of the
soul’s emancipation and final perfectionment. This is the mystic Exodus from
the mystic Egypt, the Exodus of the soul from the power of the body, as
rendered in a hymn which, alike for the light it casts on the intention and
method of Scripture, for its intrinsic beauty, and for the manner of its
recovery (1), is altogether excellent, and well worthy to be
accounted one of “the precious things brought forth by the moon,” as said
Deuteronomy of the products of the intuition, of which the “moon,” or
“Isis,” is the symbol. For it is one of those rituals which, long before
they were appropriated to the service of the Bible, were wont to be chanted
in chorus by the initiates of the sacred mysteries of Egypt, Greece, and,
who shall say, of how many other lands? As they made procession through the
aisles of their mighty temples, solemn yet joyous, as – to use Plutarch’s
expression – “knowing themselves to be immortal.” For they knew, as all who
are truly initiated know, having the witness in themselves, that immortality
means, not the doubtful boon of the mere continuance of life, but the
inestimable blessing of a larger, fuller, richer, higher, nobler – in a
word, of a divine – life. For not theirs was the self-induced blight of that
utter lack of the imagination, scientific or other, which incapacitates the
intellectual representatives of this age from perceiving – for the
imagination is, in its true function, a perceptive rather than a creative
faculty – that this stupendous universe not only
possibilities which the brief, meagre, painful, and incomplete life of the
earth and the body cannot even begin to exhaust, and for which, therefore,
the present life is but a preparation and a prelude.
our hymn fully intelligible, it is necessary to premise as follows. By
lacchos, to whom it is addressed, is meant life in its highest degree,
spiritual life, the term being identical with the Hebrew Jah, or
which means life, and of whom, personified, it is said in the Psalms,
“Praise Him by His name lah.” The name Jacob is a form of the same, and
hence the expression in the Psalms, “the mighty God Jacob,” and the import
of the “allegory,” as Paul calls it, of the prenatal struggle between Jacob
and his “brother” Esau, whom, as denoting the bodily life only, God is said
to “hate”; but who, as the first to be manifested, is called the elder.
While Jacob, whom God is said to “love,” denotes the spiritual life, which,
though last to be manifested as belonging to a later and higher stage of
man’s evolution, is really the elder in the divine idea and intention, and
the rightful heir, and is, therefore, represented as proving his superiority
by its superior subtlety.
name of lacchos, Dionysos, corresponds to Jehovah-Nissi of the Hebrews. And
while lacchos, or Dionysos, is the God at once of the body and of the planet
having his place, like the earth, third from the sun, and called – as by
Isaiah – the Spirit of Power, Hermes, as the Spirit of Understanding and
second of the creative Elohim, has his place next the sun, his planet being
Mercury, by which name he is called by the Latins. That Hermes is, in our
hymn, called the redeemer is because it is through the Understanding of
divine things that man is alone able to achieve his redemption. The name,
which signifies both rock and interpreter, implies that the rock on which
the true Church is built is neither a person nor a spirit of credulity,
however devout, but the Understanding. Like the Hebrew Raphael, to whom he
corresponds, Hermes is called also the physician of souls, in token that a
right Understanding of divine things is indispensable to the soul’s health
and welfare. From all of which it is dear that, in making the man “Peter”
its “rock,” and not the spirit of Understanding who prompted the confession
of Peter, the Church materialised the verity implied, thereby concealing it
from view until it was lost. And, so far from “Peter” fulfilling his proper
function as interpreter by opening the ears of the faithful to the
Understanding of divine things, he – as represented by the Church – has to
continued to repeat the act for which he was rebuked by Jesus – that of
cutting off the ear, as by forbidding inquiry and withholding the
interpretation of the doctrines of religion; until it has come, as by a
righteous Nemesis, that the Church itself has lost the knowledge both of the
source and of the signification of its own dogmas; and, as declared by
Cardinal Newman, the only hope for religion lies in a new revelation.
as the soul, is the seeker after salvation through spiritual perfection.
“Egypt,” as has already been stated, stands for the body; the “corn in
Egypt” for the nourishment, experiences, discipline, and so forth, requisite
for the soul’s sustenance and education. “Evoi” means hail! And the
standpoint of the poem is that of a man, when about to become again
incarnate on earth for the further accomplishment of his regeneration,
admonishing his soul concerning the dangers before them and the way of
HYMN TO THE PLANET-GOD
lacchos, Lord of the Sphinx: who linkest the lowest to the highest; the
loins of the wild beast to the head and breast of the woman.
holdest the chalice of divination: all the forms of nature are reflected
turnest man to destruction, then thou sayest: Come again, ye children of my
blessed and holy art thou, O Master of Earth: Lord of the cross and of the
tree of salvation.
God, whose blood redeemeth; bread of heaven, broken on the altar of death.
corn in Egypt; go thou down into her, O my soul, with joy.
the kingdom of the body thou shalt eat the bread of thine initiation.
beware lest thou become subject to the flesh, and a bond-slave in the land
of thy sojourn.
not the idols of Egypt; and let not the senses be thy taskmasters.
will bow thy neck to their yoke; they
bitterly oppress the Israel of God.
time shall come upon thee; and the Lord shall smite Egypt with plagues for
shall be broken on the wheel of God; thy flesh shall see trouble and the
house shall be smitten with grievous plagues; blood, and pestilence, and
great darkness; fire shall devour thy goods; and thou shalt be a prey to the
locust and creeping thing.
glory shall be brought down to the dust; hail and storm shall smite thine
harvest; yea, thy beloved and thy first-born shall the hand of the Lord
the body let the souls go free; that she may serve the Lord God.
the night, O soul, and fly, lest thou be consumed in Egypt.
angel of the understanding shall know thee for his elect, if thou offer unto
God a reasonable faith.
thy reason with learning, with labour, and with obedience.
rod of thy desire be in thy right hand; put the sandals of Hermes on thy
feet; and gird thy loins with strength.
shalt thou pass through the waters of cleansing, which is the first death in
waters shall be a wall unto thee on thy right hand and on thy left.
Hermes the redeemer shall go before thee; for he is thy cloud of darkness by
day, and thy pillar of fire by night.
horsemen of Egypt and the chariots there of; her princes, her counsellors,
and her mighty men:
shall pursue thee, O soul, that fliest; and shall seek to bring thee back
thy life; fear not the deep; stretch out thy rod over the sea; and lift thy
desire unto God.
hast learnt wisdom in Egypt; thou hast spoiled the Egyptians; thou hast
carried away their fine gold and their precious things.
hast enriched thyself in the body; but the body shall not hold thee; neither
shall the waters of the deep swallow thee up.
shalt wash thy robes in the sea of regeneration; the blood of atonement
shall redeem thee to God.
thy chrism and anointing, O soul; this is the first death; thou art the
Israel of the Lord,
redeemed thee from the dominion of the body, and hath called thee from the
grave, and from the house of bondage,
way of the Cross and to the path in the midst of the wilderness;
are the adder and the serpent, the mirage and the burning sand.
feet of the saint are set in the way of the desert.
thou of good courage, and fail thou not; then shall thy raiment endure, and
thy sandals shall not wax old upon thee.
desire shall heal thy diseases; it shall bring streams for thee out of the
stony rock; it shall lead thee to Paradise.
Father lacchos, Jehovah-Nissi; Lord of the garden and of the vineyard;
“Initiator and lawgiver; God of the cloud and of the mount.
Father lacchos; out of Egypt hast thou called thy Son.”
(56:1) The story of the recovery of this
hymn is told in The Life of Anna Kingsford, referred to in the
Preface to this edition. Mr. Maitland there says: “The method [of its
recovery] was such as to constitute it a proof positive of the great
doctrine set forth in it, the doctrine of reincarnation; for it was as one
of a band of initiates, making solemn procession through the aisles of a
vast Egyptian temple, chanting it in chorus, that Mary [Anna Kingsford],
being asleep, recollected it” (Vol. I, p. 456). And, in the letter before
referred to, sent on the 22nd September, 1891, for publication in the
Agnostic Journal, Edward Maitland says: – “This Hymn is neither an
original composition nor a translation from any existing known literature,
but one of a series of similar recollections, recovered principally in
sleep, by my late collaborator Dr. Anna Kingsford, of knowledges acquired in
a previous incarnation, when an initiate of the ancient Egyptian Mysteries;
such recovery having been expressly vouchsafed under the control of the
Church Invisible – with which, as an extraordinary advanced soul, she was in
open conditions and full communion – in fulfilment of the prophecies which
indicate the present time as that of the ‘end of the world’ in the sense of
materiality and agnosticism in respect of things spiritual and divine.”
“series of similar recollections” above referred to constitute “the
essential portions of that ancient divine gnosis, or knowledge, which was
the foundation of all the sacred mysteries, scriptures, and religions of
antiquity, Christianity included, and with the taking away of the key of
which Jesus so bitterly reproached, in the ecclesiasticism of his time, that
of all time. The recovery comprises also rituals, hymns, and expositions,
from which the Bible writers largely derived both their doctrine and their
diction.” (Letter of Edward Maitland in A. J.
[Agnostic Journal] of 15th Sept. 1894). – S.H.H.
(61:1) The “garden” implies the condition
of purity; the “vineyard,” the culture of a pure spirit in man; the “cloud,”
the place from which the divine voice within man utters itself; the “mount,”
the “hill of regeneration” or “mount of the Lord” within man; so-called from
its representing that process of ascent inwards and upwards towards his
highest and best, by means of which he becomes regenerate or “twice-born,”
and thereby divine. And to be “consumed” implies the process of wasting away
which the soul undergoes by deprivation of its proper spiritual sustenance.