LECTURE THE SECOND (1)
THE SOUL; AND THE
SUBSTANCE OF EXISTENCE
1. OUR theme is that which is at once the supreme subject and object of culture, and the necessary basis of all real religion and science. For it is the substance of existence, the Soul, universal and individual, of humanity. Only when we know the nature of this, can we know what we ourselves are, and what we have it in us to become. For our potentialities necessarily depend upon the substance whereof we are made.
2. This is not Matter. Wherefore a science which, in being restricted to the cognition of phenomena is a materialistic science, cannot help us to an understanding of ourselves. But, on the contrary, to such understanding such science is, in its issues, the greatest enemy. Matter is not God: and in order to understand ourselves, it is necessary to understand God. God is the Substance of existence. Be that substance what it may, it still is God; and of God no other definition is possible or desirable, but all conditions are satisfied by it. To know God, then, is to know this substance; and to know this, is to know ourselves, and only by knowing this can we know ourselves.
3. Such, and no other or less, was the meaning of the famous mystic
utterance inscribed on the temple porch at
4. This substance, we repeat, is not Matter; and a science which recognises Matter only, so far from ministering towards the desired comprehension of ourselves, is the deadly foe of such comprehension. For, as Matter is, in the sense already described, the antithesis of Spirit, so is Materialism the antithesis of the system under exposition, namely, of Mysticism, or, as we propose to call it, Spiritualism. And here it must be understood that we use this latter term, not in its modern, debased and limited sense, but in its ancient proper purity and plenitude, that wherein it signifies the science, not of spirits merely, but of Spirit, that is, of God, and therein of all Being. Thus adopting and rehabilitating the term Spiritualism, we define as follows: – first, the system we have recovered and seek to establish; and, next the system we condemn and seek to destroy.
5. Dealing with both substance and phenomena, Spirit
and Matter, the eternal and the temporal, the universal and the individual; constituting respecting existence a complete system of positive doctrine beyond which neither mind nor heart can aspire; providing a rule of knowledge, of understanding, of faith, and of conduct; derived from God’s own Self; transmitted and declared by the loftiest intelligences in the worlds human and celestial; and in every respect confirmed by the reason, the intuition, and the experience of the earth’s representative men, its sages, saints, seers, prophets, redeemers, and Christs, and by none in any respect confuted; – the system comprised under the term Spiritualism is not only at once a science, a philosophy, a morality, and a religion, but is the science, the philosophy, the morality, and the religion of which all others are, either by aspiration or by degeneration, limitations merely. And according to the degree of its acceptance by man, it ministers to his perfection and satisfaction here and hereafter.
6. But its antithesis: – Springing from the bottomless pit of man’s lower nature; having for its criterion, not the conclusions of the mind or the experiences of the soul, but only the sensations of the body; and being, therefore, not a science, nor a philosophy, nor a morality, nor a religion, but the opposite of each and all of these – the system comprised under the term Materialism is not a limitation of Spiritualism, but is the negation of it, and is to it what darkness is to light, nonentity to existence, the “devil” to God. And in proportion to the degree of its acceptance by man, it ministers to his deterioration and destruction here and hereafter.
7. Between the two extremes thus presented, having liberty to choose, and power to determine his own destination, man, according to mystical doctrine, is placed, in pursuance of the Divine Idea of which creation is the manifestation.
And whereas, implying the culture of the substantial, Spiritualism, as we use the term, represents Reality; and in implying the culture of the phenomenal only, Materialism represents Illusion, the choice between them is the choice between the Perfection and the Negation of Being.
8. But whatever the quarrel of the Spiritualist with Materialism for its exclusive recognition of Matter, and consequent idolatry of form and appearance, with Matter itself he has no quarrel. For, although, by reason of its limitations, the cause of evil, Matter is not in itself evil. On the contrary, it comes forth from God, and consists of that whereof God’s Self consists, namely, Spirit. It is Spirit, by the force of Divine will subjected to conditions and limitations, and made exteriorly cognisable.
9. Matter is thus a manifestation of that which in its original condition is unmanifest, namely, Spirit. And Spirit does not become evil by becoming manifest. Evil is the result of the limitation of Spirit by Matter. For Spirit is God, and God is good. Wherefore, in being the limitation of God, Matter is the limitation of good. Such limitation is essential to creation. For without a projection of Divine Substance, that is, of God’s Self, into conditions and limitations – of Being, which is absolute, into Existence, which is relative – God would remain inoperative, solitary, unmanifest, and consequently unknown, unhonoured and unloved, with all God’s power and goodness potential merely and unexercised. For aught else to exist that God, there must be that which is by limitation, inferior to God. And for this to exist in plenitude corresponding to God’s infinitude, it must involve the idea of the opposite and negation of God. This is to say: – Creation, to be worthy of God, must involve the idea of a No-God. God’s absolute plenitude in
respect of all the qualities and properties which constitute Being, must be contrasted by that utter deprivation of all such properties and qualities, which constitutes Not-Being. Between no narrower extremes can a Divine creation be contained. By no lesser contrast can God be fully manifested. The darkness of God’s shadow must correspond in intensity with the brightness of God’s light. And only through the full the knowledge of the one, can the other be duly apprehended and appreciated. He only can thoroughly appreciate good, who has ample knowledge of evil. It is a profound truth, that “the greater the sinner, the greater the saint.” That exquisite epitome of the Soul’s history, the parable of the Prodigal Son, is based upon the same text. Only they who have gone out from God, returning, know God. At once consequence and cause of the going out from God, Matter is an indispensable minister to Creation, without which and its limitations Creation were not.
10. But mere creation does not represent the totality of the Divine purpose. And a creation restricted to the actualities of Matter would be the reverse of a boon to itself or a credit to God. For by a creation thus limited, Deity would have shown Itself to be that only which the Materialist imagines It, namely, Force. Whereas “God is Love.” And Love is that, not which merely creates and after brief caress repudiates and discards; but which sustains, redeems, perfects, and perpetuates. And to these ends Matter ministers indispensably, and therein contributes towards that second creation which is the supplement and complement of the first. This second creation is called Redemption, and in it the Creator finds His recognition and glorification, and man his perfection and perpetuation. For Redemption is the full compensation, both to God and to the universe, for all
that is undergone and suffered by and through Creation. And it is brought about by the return from Matter to Spirit, to its original condition of purity, but individualised and enriched by the results of all that has been gained through the processes to which it has been subjected; – results which, but for Matter, could not have been. Matter is thus indispensable to the processes both of creation and of perfection. For that through which we are made perfect is experience, or suffering; and we are only really alive and exist in so far as we have felt. Now, of this divine and indispensable ministry of experience, Matter is the agent.
11. Such being for the Spiritualist, who also is Mystic and not Phenomenalist merely, the origin, nature, and final cause of Matter, he has with it no ground of quarrel. But recognising it as intended, not to conceal but to reveal God, and to minister to man’s creation in the image of God, he regards the material universe as a divine revelation, and seeks, by humble, reverent, and loving analysis of it, to learn both it and God, and thus to make it minister to his own perfection. “Imitation,” it has been said, and truly, “is the sincerest flattery.” And man best honours God when he seeks to be like God. In this pursuit it is that, following his intuition of Spirit, he ascends from the exterior sphere of Matter and appearance – that sphere which, as the outermost of man’s system, constitutes the borderland between him and negation, and is therefore next neighbour, to that which, mystically, is called the devil – to the interior sphere of Spirit and Reality, where God subsists in His plenitude. And so, from Nature’s Seeming he attains to the cognition at once of God’s and his own Being.
12. The system by the knowledge and observance of
which these supreme ends are attained, and which is now for the first time in the world’s history openly disclosed, has constituted the hidden basis of all the world’s divine revelations and religions. For from the beginning there has been one divine Revelation, constantly re-revealed in whole or in part, and representing the actual eternal nature of existence; and this in such measure as to enable those who receive it to make of their own existence the highest and best that can possibly be imagined or desired. Known by various names, delivered at various places and periods, and finding expression under various symbols, this revelation has constituted a Gospel of Salvation for all who have accepted it, enabling them to escape the limitations of Matter and return to the condition of pure Spirit, and therein to attain immunity, not merely, as is ordinarily desired, from the consequences of sin, but from the liability to sin. And, as history shows, wherever it has succeeded in obtaining full manifestation, Materialism, with all its foul brood, has fled discomfited, like Python, the mighty Serpent of Darkness, before the darts of Phoebus, to make its dwelling in the caverns and secret places of earth.
13. Coming, then, to the proper subject of this Lecture, we will now treat of the Soul, universal and individual, commencing with the latter.
The soul, or permanent element in man, is first engendered in the lowest forms of organic life, from which it works upwards, through plants and animals, to man. Its earliest manifestation is in the ethereal or fluidic material called the astral body; and it is not something added to that body, but is generated in it by the polarisation of the elements. Once generated, it enters into and passes
through many bodies, and continues to do so until finally perfected or finally dissipated and lost. The process of its generation is gradual. The magnetic forces of innumerable elements are directed and focused to one center; and streams of electric power pass along all their convergent poles to that center, until they create there a fire, a kind of crystallisation of magnetic force. This is the Soul, the sacred fire of the hearth, called by the Greeks Hestia, or Vesta, which must be kept burning continually. The astral and fluidic body, its immediate matrix – called also the perisoul – and the material or fixed body put forth by this, may fall away and disappear; but the soul, once begotten and made an individual, is immortal, until its own perverse will extinguishes it. For the fire of the soul must be kept alive by the Divine Breath, if it is to endure for ever. It must converge, not diverge. If it diverge, it will be dissipated. The end of progress is unity; the end of degradation is division. The soul, therefore, which ascends, tends more and more to union with and absorption into the Divine.
14. The clearest understanding may be obtained of the soul by defining it as the Divine Idea. Before anything can exist outwardly and materially, the idea of it must subsist in the Divine Mind. The soul, therefore, may be understood to be divine and everlasting in its nature. But it does not act directly upon Matter. It is put forth by the Divine Mind; but the body is put forth by the astral, or “fiery”, body. As Spirit, on the celestial plane, is the parent of the soul, so Fire, on the material plane, begets the body. The plane on which the celestial and creatures touch each other, is the astral plane.
15. The soul, being in its nature eternal, passes from one form to another until, in its highest stage, it polarises sufficiently
to receive the spirit. It is in all organised things. Nothing of an organic nature exists without a soul. It is the individual, and perishes finally if uninformed of the spirit.
16. This becomes readily intelligible if we conceive of God as of a vast spiritual body constituted of many individual elements, all having but one will and therefore being one. This condition of oneness with the Divine Will and Being, constitutes what, in Hindu mysticism, is called the celestial Nirvana. But though becoming pure Spirit, or God, the individual retains his individuality. So that, instead of all being finally merged in the One, the One becomes Many. Thus does God become millions. “God is multitudes, and nations, and kingdoms, and tongues; and the voice of God is as the sound of many waters.”
17. The Celestial Substance is continually individualising Itself, that It may build Itself up into One perfect Individual. Thus is the Circle of Life accomplished, and thus its ends meet the one with the other. But the degraded soul, on the other hand, must be conceived of as dividing more and more, until, at length, it is scattered into many, and ceases to be as an individual, becoming, as it were, split, and broken up, and dispersed into many pieces. This is the Nirvana of annihilation. (1)
18. The Planet must not be looked upon as something apart from its offspring. It, also, is a Person, fourfold in nature, and having four orders of offspring, of which orders man alone comprises the whole. Of its offspring some lie in the astral region only, and are but twofold; some in the watery region, and are threefold; and some in the human region, who are fourfold. The metallic and gaseous envelope of the planet, are its body and perisoul. The
organic region comprises its soul; and the human region its spirit, or divine part. When it was but metallic it had no individualised soul. When it was but organic it had no divine spirit. But when man was made in the image of God, then was its spirit breathed into its soul. In the metallic region soul is diffused and unpolarised; and the metals, therefore, are not individual; and not being individual, their transmutation does not involve transmigration. But the plants and animals are individual, and their essential element transmigrates and progresses. And man has also a divine spirit; and so long as he is man – that is truly human – he cannot re-descend into the body of an animal or any creature in the sphere beneath him, since that would be an indignity to the spirit. But if he lose his spirit, and become again animal, he may descend, and – disintegrating – become altogether gross and horrible. This is the end of persistently evil men. For God is not the God of creeping things; but Impurity – personified by the Hebrews as Baalzebub – is their god. And there were none of this in the Age of Gold, neither shall there be any when the earth is fully purged. Man’s own wickedness is the creator of his evil beasts. (1)
19. The soul is not astral fluid, but is manifest by astral fluid. For the soul itself is, like the idea, invisible and intangible. This may be best seen by following out the genesis of any particular action. For instance, the stroke of the pen on paper is the phenomenon, that is, the outer body. The action which produces the stroke is the astral body; and, though physical, it is not a thing, but a transition or medium between the result and its cause – between, that is, the stroke and the idea. The idea, manifested in the act, is not physical, but mental, and is the soul of the
act. But even this is not the first cause. For the idea is put forth by the will, and this is the spirit. Thus, we will an idea, as God wills the Macrocosm. The potential body, its immediate result, is the astral body; and the phenomenal body, or ultimate form, is the effect of motion and heat. If we could arrest motion, we should have as the result, fire. But fire itself also is material, since, like the earth or body, it is visible to the outer sense. It has, however, many degrees of subtlety. The astral, or odic, substance, therefore, is not the soul itself, but is the medium or manifestor of the soul, as the act is of the idea.
20. To pursue this explanation a little further. The act is a condition of the idea, in the same way as fire, or incandescence, is the condition of any given object. Fire is, then, the representative of that transitional medium termed the Astral body; as Water – the result of the combined interaction of Wisdom the Mother, or Oxygen, and Justice the Father, or Hydrogen – is of the Soul. Air, which is produced by the mixture – not combination – of Wisdom and Force (Azoth), represents the Spirit – One in operation, but ever Twain in constitution. Earth is not, properly speaking, an element at all. She is the result of the Water and the Air, fused and crystallised by the action of the Fire; and her rocks and strata are either aqueous or igneous. Fire, the real maker of the body, is, as we have seen, a mode and condition, and not a true element. The only real, true, and permanent elements, therefore, are Air and Water, which are, respectively, as Spirit and Soul, Will and Idea, Father and Mother. And out of this are made all the elements of earth by the aid of the condition of Matter, which is, interchangeably, Heat and Motion. Wisdom, Justice, and Force, or Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Azote, are the three out of which the two true elements are produced.
21. Material body, astral fluid or sideral body, soul, and spirit, all these are one in their essence. And the first three are differentialities of polarisation. The fourth is God’s Self. When the Gods – the Elohim or Powers of the Hebrews – put forth the world, they put forth substance with its three potentialities, but all in the condition of “odic” light. This substantial light is called sometimes the sideral or astral body, sometimes the perisoul, and this because it is both. It is that which makes, and that which becomes. It is fire, or the anima bruta (as distinguished from the Divine), out of and by means of which body and soul are generated. It is the fiery manifestation of the soul, the magnetic factor of the body. It is space, it is substance, it is foundation; so that from it proceed the gases and the minerals, which are unindividuated, and from it also the organic world which is individuated. But man it could not make; for man is fourfold and of the divine ether, the province assigned by the Greeks to Zeus, the father of the Gods and men.
22. The outer envelope of the macrocosm and the microcosm alike, the Earth or body, is thus in reality not elemental at all, but is a compound of the other three elements. Its fertility is due to the water, and its transmutory or chemical power to the fire. The water corresponds to the soul – the “best principle” of Pindar – while fire is to the body what spirit is to the soul. As the soul is without divinity and life until vivified by the spirit, so the body – earth or Matter – is without physical life in the absence of fire. No Matter is really dead Matter, for the fire element is in all Matter. But Matter would be dead, would cease, that is, to exist as Matter, if motion were suspended, which is, if there were no fire. For, as wherever there is motion there is heat, and consequently fire; and motion is the
condition of Matter, so without fire would be no Matter. In other words, Matter is a mode of life.
23. We come now to the history and progress of the soul. Souls, we have said, work upwards from plants and animals to man. In man they attain their perfection and the power to dispense altogether with material bodies. Their ability to do this is the cause and consequence of their perfection. And it is the attainment of this that is the object of the culture of the soul – the object, that is, of religion. Spirit alone is good, is God. Matter is that whereby spirit is limited, and is, therein, the cause of evil; for evil is the limitation of good. Wherefore to escape from Matter and its limitations, and return to the condition of spirit, is to be superior to the liability to evil.
24. Formerly the way of escape for human souls was more open than now, and the path clearer. Because, although ignorance of intellectual things abounded, specially among the poorer folk, yet the knowledge of divine things, and the light of faith, were stronger and purer. The anima bruta, or earthly mind, was less strongly defined and fixed, so that the anima divina, or heavenly mind, subsisted in more open conditions. Wherefore the souls of those ages of the world, not being enchained to earth as they now are, were enabled to pass more quickly through their avatârs; and but few incarnations sufficed where now many are necessary. For in these days the mind’s ignorance is weighted by materialism, instead of being lightened by faith; and the soul is sunk to earth by love of the body, by atheism, and by excessive care for the things of sense. And being crushed thereby, it lingers long in the atmosphere of earth, seeking many fresh lodgements, and so multiplies
bodies, the circumstances of each of which are influenced by the use made of the previous one.
25. For every man makes his own fate, and nothing is truer than that character is Destiny. It is by their own hands that the lines of some are cast in pleasant places, of some in vicious, and of some in virtuous ones, so that there is nothing arbitrary or unjust. But in what manner so ever a soul conduct itself in one incarnation, by that conduct, by that order of thought and habit, it builds for itself its destiny in a future incarnation. For the soul is enchained by these prenatal influences, which irresistibly force it into a new nativity at the time of such conjunction of planets and signs as oblige it into certain courses and incline it strongly thereto. But if the soul oppose itself to these influences and adopt some other course – as it well may to its own real advantage – it brings itself under a “curse” for such period as the planets and ruling signs of that incarnation have power. But though this mean is misfortune in a worldly sense, it is true fortune for the soul in a spiritual sense. For the soul is therein striving to atone and make restitution for the evil done in its own past; and thus striving, it advances towards higher and happier conditions. Wherefore man is, strictly, his own creator, in that he makes himself and his conditions, according to the tendencies he encourages. The process of such reformation, however, may be a long one. For, tendencies encouraged for ages cannot be cured in a single lifetime, but may require ages for their cure.
And herein is a reflection to make us as patient towards the faults of others, as we ought to be impatient of our own faults.
26. The doctrine of the soul is embodied in the parable of the Talents. Into the soul of the individual is breathed the Spirit of God, divine, pure, and without blemish. It is God. And the individual has, in his earth-life, to nourish,
that Spirit and feed it as a flame with oil. When we put oil into a lamp, the essence passes into and becomes flame. So is it with the soul of him who nourishes the Spirit. It grows gradually pure and becomes Spirit. By this spirit the body is enlightened as a lamp by the flame within it. Now, the flame is not the oil, for the oil may be there without the light; yet the flame cannot be there without the oil. The body, then, is the lamp-case into which the oil is poured; and this, the oil, is the soul, a fine and combustible fluid; and the flame is the Divine Spirit, which is not born of the oil, but is communicated by God from within. We may quench this Spirit utterly, and thenceforward we shall have no immortality; but when the lamp-case breaks, the oil will be spilt on the earth, and a few fumes will for a time arise from it, and then it will expend itself, leaving at last no trace. Thus, as in the parable of the Talents, where God has given five talents, man pays back ten; or he pays back nothing, and perishes.
27. Some oils are finer and more combustible than others. The finest is that of the soul of the poet; and in such a medium the flame of God’s Spirit burns more clearly and powerfully, and brightly, so that sometimes mortal eyes can hardly endure its lustre. Of such an one the soul is filled with holy rapture. He sees as no other man sees; and the atmosphere about him is enkindled. His soul becomes transmuted into flame; and when the lamp of his body is shattered, his flame mounts and soars, and is united to the Divine Fire. (1)
28. We come to treat of that from which the soul of the individual proceeds, and of which it consists. For,
as already observed, it is upon the nature of this that our potentialities depend. Let us, then, for awhile, ignoring the universe of things, cast our minds backward to the point wherein, prior to existence, substance necessarily, subsists alone and undifferentiated, and pure Being is all.
29. That which subsists before the beginning of things, is necessarily the potentiality of things. This necessarily is homogeneous. As the Substance of things, and pervaded by Life, it is Living Substance; and being homogeneous, it is One. But, consisting of Life and Substance, it is Twain. Constituting the life and substance of Persons, it is necessarily personal; and being self-subsistent, infinite, eternal, and personal, it is God; and God is Twain in One. By virtue of the potency of this duality, God subsists and operates. And every monad of God’s substance possesses the potency of Twain. Wherever are Life and Substance, there is God. Wherever God is, there is Being; and wherever Being is, there is God; for God is Being. The universe is Existence, that is, God manifested. Prior to the universe, God subsisted unmanifest. Subsistence and Existence, these are the two terms which denote respectively God in God’s Self, and God in Creation.
30. Before the beginning of things, the great and invisible God alone subsisted. There was no motion, nor darkness, nor space, nor matter. There was no other then God, the One, the Uncreate, the Self-subsistent, Who subsisted as invisible Light.
31. God is Spirit, God is Life, God is Mind, God is the Subject and Object of mind: at once the thought, the thinker, and that which is thought of. God is positive and personal Being; the potential Essence of all that is or can be; the one and only Self; that alone in the universe which
has the right to say, “I”. Wherever a Presence is, there is God; and where God is not, is no Being.
received. Before the beginning negation was not. There was no other than God.
34. As Living Substance, God is One. As Life and Substance, God is Twain. HE is the Life, and SHE is the Substance. And to speak of HER, is to speak of Woman in her supremest mode. She is not “Nature;” Nature is the manifestation of the qualities and properties with which, under suffusion of the Life and Spirits of God, Substance is endowed. She is not matter; but is the potential essence of Matter. She is not Space; but is the within of space, its fourth and original dimension, that from which all proceed, the containing element of Deity, and of which space is the manifestation. As original Substance, the substance of all others substances, She underlies that whereof all things are made; and, like life and mind, is interior, mystical, spiritual, and discernible only when manifested in operation. In the Unmanifest, She is the Great Deep, or Ocean, of Infinitude, the Principium or Archë, the heavenly Sophia, or Wisdom, Who encircles and embraces all things; of Whom are dimension and form and appearance; Whose veil is the astral fluid, and Who is, Herself, the substance of all souls.
35. On the plane of manifestation, as the Soul macrocosmic and microcosmic, She appears as the Daughter, Mother, and Spouse of God. Exhibiting in a perfect Humanity the fullness of the life she has received of God, she is mystically styled the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in token of her Divine Motherhood and heavenly derivation and attributes, is represented as clad in celestial azure, and bearing in Her arms the infant Man, in whom, regenerate and reborn of Her own immaculate substance, the universe is redeemed. In Her subsist inherently all the feminine qualities of the Godhead. As Venus, the brightest of the
mystic Seven who represent the Elohim of God, She corresponds to the third, the spirit of counsel, in that counsel is wisdom, and love and wisdom are one. Thus, in mystical art She is portrayed as Aphrodite the Sea-Queen, and Mary the Star of the Sea, and as the soul from whose pure intuition of God proceeds the perfected man. Correspondingly, in mystical science She appears as Sodium, or Salt, whose ray in the spectrum, as the place of Venus among the planets, is the third, whose light is the brightest, and whose colour is the yellow. Among the metals, copper is dedicated to Venus. For of copper the crystals are the deep sea-blue. And, inasmuch as She, as love, is the enlightener, and as salt the purifier, and the pure in heart see God, so is its sulphate a balm for ailing eyes. As Pallas or Minerva, She is “Our Lady of Victories,” adversary of demons and dragons, wearing the panoply of heaven, and the insignia of wisdom and righteous war. As Isis or Artemis, She is pre-eminently the Initiator, the Virgin clothed in white, standing on the Moon, and ruling the waters.
36. Also is She “Mother of Sorrows,” whose bitterness pervades all things below; and only by her salting with affliction, purification by trial, and purchase of wisdom by dear-bought experience, is the perfection that is of Her attained. Nevertheless She is also “Mother of Joys,” since Her light is gilded by the solar rays; and of Her pain and travail as the soul in the individual, comes the regeneration of Her children. And She is for them no more a sea of bitterness when once their warfare with evil has been accomplished: for then is She “our Lady, Glory of the Church triumphant.” Thus is the Microcosm.
moves at every fresh act of creation, and the ark or womb from which all creatures proceed. And it is through the “gathering together”, or coagulation, of Her “waters” that the “dry land” of the earth or body, which is Matter, appears. For she is that spiritual substance which, polarising interiorly, is – in the innermost – God; and coagulating exteriorly, becomes – in the outermost – Matter. And She, again, it is, who as the soul of humanity, regaining full intuition of God, overwhelms the earth with a flood of Her waters, destroying the evil and renewing the good, and bearing unharmed on Her bosom the elect few who have suffered Her to build them up in the true image of God. Thus to these is She “Mother of the Living.”
38. And as, on plane physical, man is not Man – but only Boy, rude,
froward, and solicitous only to exert and exhibit his strength – until
the time comes for him to recognise, appreciate, and appropriate Her as the woman; so
on the plane spiritual, man is not Man – but only Materialist, having all the
deficiencies, intellectual and moral, the term implies – until the time comes
for him to recognise, appreciate, and appropriate Her
as the Soul, and, counting Her as his better half, to renounce his own
exclusively centrifugal impulsions, and yield to Her centripetal attractions.
Doing this with all his heart, he finds that She
makes him, in the highest sense,
39. Rejecting, as this age has done, the soul and her intuition, man excludes from the system of his humanity the
very idea of the woman, and renounces his proper manhood. An Esau, he sells, and for a mess of pottage, his birthright, the faculty of intellectual comprehension. Cut off by his own act from the intuition of spirit, he takes Matter for Substance; and sharing the limitations of Matter, loses the capacity for knowledge. Calling the creature thus self-mutilated, Man, the age declares by the unanimous voice of its exponents, that Man has no instrument of knowledge, and can know nothing with certainty, excepting – for it is not consistent even in this – that he can know nothing. Of this the age is quite sure, and accordingly – complacent in its discovery – styles itself Agnostic. And, as if expressly to demonstrate the completeness of its deprivation in respect to all that goes to the making of Man, it has recourse to devices the most nefarious and inhuman on the pretext of thereby obtaining knowledge.
40. Whereas, had but the soul received the recognition and honour her due, no pretext had remained for the abominations of a science become wholly materialistic. For, as the substance and framer of all things, she necessarily is competent for the interpretation of all things. All that she requires of man, is that she be duly tended and heeded. No summit then will be too lofty of goodness or truth, for man to reach by her aid. For, recognised in her plenitude she reveals herself in her plenitude; and her fullness is the fullness of God.
41. The wise of old, who, exalting the Woman in themselves, attained to full intuition of God, failed not to make recognition of Her in the symbols whereby they denoted Deity. Hence the significance of the combination, universal from the first, of the symbols I, O, the unit and the
cipher, in the names designative of Deity. For, as the Line of force, and the Circle of comprehension and multiplication, these two represent at once Energy and Space, Will and Love, Life and Substance, Father and Mother. And though two, they are one, inasmuch as the circle is but the line turning round and following upon itself, instead of continuing into the abyss to expend its force in vain. Thus Love is self-completion by the union of corresponding opposites in the same substance, and Sex has its origin in the very nature of Deity. The principle of duality is for the Kabbalists – the heirs and interpreters of Hebrew transcendentalism – the true God of Hosts. Hence the universal use of its emblems religious worship, wherein nations gave the preference to the one or to the other, according to their own characteristics.
42. While these symbols conjoined find expression in terms Jehovah or Yahveh, Jove, Jao, and numerous similar appellations of Deity, the names Zeus, Dyaus, Theos, and Deus represent but the forceful and masculine element in the feminine azure sphere of the sky, the electric flash from the bosom of the heavens. That name of Deity which, occurring in the Old Testament, is translated the Almighty, namely, El Shaddai, signifies the Breasted God, and is used when the mode of the Divine nature implied, is of a feminine character. The arbitrary and harsh aspect under which Jehovah is chiefly presented in the Hebrew Scriptures, is due not to any lack of the feminine element either in His name or in His nature, or to any failure on the part of the inspired leaders of Israel to recognise this quality; but to the rudimentary condition of the people at large, and their consequent amenability to a delineation of the sterner side only of the Divine character. It is according to the Divine order that this,
the masculine element of existence, should be the first to find exercise. In the initiation of any system, the centrifugal, or repellant mode of force must precede the centripetal or attractive mode; since only when the former has accomplished its part, is there opportunity for the exercise of the latter. True, the Love Who prompts to creation is present from the beginning; but She reserves the manifestation of Herself until the subject of Her creative impulsion is able to bear its part in the recognition of Her. First Will, therefore, then Love; first Projection, then Recall; first Expansion, then Contraction; first Centrifugal, then Centripetal; first Motor, then Sensory; first Intellectual, then Intuitional; first Sensible, then Spiritual; in short, first Man and then Woman – such invariably is the order by which the Universal Heart of existence manifests its essential dualism of nature and operation. And in the sequence set forth in the Bible – the sequence, of Law and Gospel, of Old Testament and New – the same rule prevails. To the masculine function is accorded precedence in point of time; to the feminine, in point of dignity. And it is thus that the manifestation of the Divine will and power in Creation is followed by the manifestation of the Divine love and wisdom in Redemption, and that the agent of this last is always the “woman.” She it is who, by Her intuition of God, bruises the head of the Serpent of Matter, and Her sons they are who get the victory over him.
43. Even where not yet recognised by men in general, there were always some by whom the true character of Deity in this respect could be discerned. And to these are due all those utterances in which the mystical Scriptures express the justice, mercy, long-suffering, and other qualities of the Divine nature, which, in being moral and of the soul, are feminine, and when manifested of the Spirit
as persons, take form, not as “Gods”, but “Goddesses.” They to whom this truth was known were prophets: and they spoke, not of that which appertains to any one period, but of that which is eternal, though finding expression more or less palpable at various periods. And that thereby they knew so much, was not the outer sense and reason, but the inner perception and recollection – the knowledge, that is, which the soul of the individual has of her own larger self, the Soul of the Universal. For only Soul can read Soul. And only he is a prophet who has acquired the knowledge of his own soul. And that which above all else the Soul tells him, is that God is, first and foremost, Love; and that, inasmuch as God is the Substance of humanity, whatever subsists in the Divine nature must, in due course, first in the individual and next in the race, find full expression and recognition.
44. If it be asked whether God can indeed find such expression in man, and, if so, how so great a marvel comes about, we reply that it is precisely the purpose of these lectures to afford demonstration on both points. For the object of the system under exposition is this, and no more, no less. For that object is – as was the object of all sacred mysteries, whether of our Bible or other – to enable man anew so to develop the Soul, or Essential Woman, within him, as to become, through Her, a perfect reflection of the universal Soul, and made, therefore, in what, mystically, is called the image of God.
45. An illustration will conduce to the comprehension of this. We are, let us suppose, in a meadow covered with grass and flowers. It is early morning, and everything is bespangled with dew. And in each dewdrop is everything reflected from the sun itself down to the minutest object. All reflect God. All is in every drew-drop. And
God is in each individual according to his capacity for reflecting God. Each in his degree reflects God’s image. And the capacity of each, and the degree of each, depend upon the development and purity of his soul. The soul that fully reflects the sun, becomes itself a sun, the brightness of the Divine glory and the express image of the Divine persons.
46. Such, in all mystical Scriptures, has ever been the mode in which
perfected souls have been regarded. For, in being the redeeming element in man,
that whereby he escapes from the dominion of spiritual darkness and death – from
the limitations, that is, of an existence merely material – the soul is as a
spiritual sun, corresponding in all things with the solar orb. Wherefore all
they who, by virtue of their constituting for men a full manifestation of the
powers of the soul, have been to them as a redeeming sun – have been designated
sun gods, and invested with careers corresponding to the apparent annual course
of the sun. Between the phenomena of this course and the actual history of the
perfected soul is an exact correspondence requiring for its recognition but due
knowledge of both. And it is because the soul’s history is one, and this a
history corresponding with the sun’s, that all those who have earned of their
fellows the supreme title of Saviour of men, have been
invested with it, and represented as having exhibited the same phenomena in
their own lives. Thus the history ascribed alike to Osiris,
to that of the sun – the vitalising center of the physical system – and has accordingly been described in terms derived from the solar phenomena as indicated in the zodiacal planisphere. Thus the soul’s history is written in the stars; and the heavens are her chroniclers, and tell the glory at once of her and of God. A Bible is always a hieroglyph of the soul. And the Zodiac is simply the first and most stupendous of Bibles – a Bible which, like all other Bibles, was written by men who, attaining to the knowledge of their own souls, to that of all souls, and of God, Who is the Life and Substance of souls.
47. And these were men who followed steadfastly that
48. This is the doctrine of the Soul, mystically called the Woman. It is a doctrine which, by showing men that of which they are made, and therefore that which they have it in them to be, makes them, when they receive it, heartily ashamed of being what, for the most part, they are.
(38:1) This lecture was written by Edward Maitland mainly from Illuminations received by Anna Kingsford: and was by him on Monday the 23rd May, 1881 (Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 17, 33).
(46:1) See C.W.S., part ii., No. iv., p. 221.
(47:1) Comp. Bhagavat-Gita, l. xvi.
(52:1) See C.W.S., part