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01. IN the city of Mecca, the birthplace of the iconoclast Mohammed, is a square edifice, thirty feet high, called the Kaabeh, or Cube. The Koran says that is was the first house of worship built for mankind. It has been known from time immemorial as Beit-Allah, which name is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew word Beth-El, House of God. According to Moslem legend, it was originally built by Adam, after the pattern of a similar structure in Paradise, and was restored by Abraham. It contains a white stone – now blackened by time and by the kisses of pilgrims – which stone was also, according to tradition, brought from Paradise. But, ages before the birth of Mohammed, the Kaabeh was an object of veneration as a Pantheon of the Gods, and the white stone was adored as a symbol of Venus.

02. This cubic House is a figure of the Human Kingdom framed on the pattern of the Universal Kingdom constructed in the primal Age or “Beginning.” And the original builder of the Kaabeh is said to have been Adam,

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because by “Adam” is understood the first Church of the Elect, the first Community of men “made in the Image of God.” This Church, having forfeited “Paradise,” and fallen away from perfection, was restored by Abraham, the Father of the Faithful or Initiates, this great Ancestor of the chosen people of God being no other than the personified Church of Brahma in India, whence the Mysteries “went down into Egypt,” and ultimately into all the world. The name Beth-El given to the Human House, denotes that man, when “cubic” or six-fold, is the habitation of Deity. In a future discourse it will be shown that these six stages or “days” of the creative week of the microcosm, correspond to the processes included in the Lesser and Greater Mysteries, and are, in order, Baptism, Temptation, Passion, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension; the “Marriage of the Lamb” being equivalent of the Sabbath, or Within of the Cube, the Seventh, last and supremest of all the Acts of the Soul. The white stone, which, as we have seen, has always been the object of special veneration, is the well-known symbol of the Divine Spirit, the nucleolus of the Cell, the Sun of the system, the Head of the Pyramid. It was regarded as sacred to Venus, because she is the Genius of the Fourth Day, the Revealer of the Sun and heavenly system, and to her, therefore, was peculiarly dedicated the emblem of Celestial Light. The Kaabeh is, by its very name, identified with the Kabbalistic Merkaba, the “car” in which the Lord God was said to descend to earth – a phrase indicating the work of Manifestation, or Incarnation of Divine Being in “Creation.” The Merkaba, or Vehicle of God, is described by Ezekiel as resembling a throne of sapphire, upon which is seated Adonai; and supporting and drawing it are four living creatures or cherubim, having four faces, the face of an ox, the face of a lion, the face of

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a man, and the face of an eagle. And there are also four wheels of the chariot, a wheel by each cherub, “in appearance like chrysolite.” “And their whole body, and their necks, and their hands, and their wings, and the circles are full of eyes.”


[Figure 1: The Cherubim (Ezekiel and Apocalypse) representing – 1st. The Elemental Spirits of Macrocosm and Microcosm; 2nd. The Fourfold Human Kingdom.]


03. The perusal of this descriptive vision, which is identical with certain passages in the Apocalypse of St. John, was permitted only by the ancient Hebrews to men who had attained the age of thirty years. (1) This age represents maturity, manhood, and reason, as typified in the solar month. Thus the Ark of Noë in which the Elect are preserved, is thirty cubits in height; the vision above cited occurs in his thirtieth year to Ezekiel, whose

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name signifies Strength of God; and Jesus, at the commencement of his mission of salvation, “begins to be about thirty years of age.” Similarly the Kaabeh, or Cubic House of the Microcosm, is thirty feet high.

04. This car, then – within which Adonai rides – typified by the Stone, called sapphire by Ezekiel, and jasper by St. John, is the Human Kingdom; and the living creatures which draw it are the four elements of that Kingdom, Body, Mind, Soul, and Spirit, corresponding respectively to the elemental spirits of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air, which constitute the Macrocosmic system. Of these living creatures the first in order, from without inwards, is the Ox, symbolising the earth or body, ploughed by the sacred Kine of Demeter, laborious and obedient; the next is the Lion, type of the magnetic or “fiery” mind, whose reason is destructive and whose energy is rapacious, the seat of daring and of the masculine will, which, suffered to expatiate uncontrolled, would rend and profane the sacred mysteries. Third, in order, comes the genius of the Soul, having a human face, and symbolising the true Person of the Microcosm, to whom, as to the Keeper of the House, belongs the constructive reason, the restraining and conservative force of the system. Last, and “over all the rest,” is the Eagle, the bird of the Sun or Adonai, type of light, strength, and freedom, and of the wind on whose wings the Spirit rides. As it is written. “Behold, he shall come up as an eagle and fly.” All these four cherubim are united in one, and make one fourfold creature, the wings of one being joined to the wings of another (See Figure 1, p. 147).

05. Over and around the seat or car of Adonai, as described by the seers of both Old and New Testaments, is a Rainbow, or Arch. This, the symbol of the Cup, of the Heavens encircling and enclosing the Cosmos, is in the

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Scriptures termed Mount Sion and the Mount of the Lord; by the Hindus it is called Mount Meru, and by the Greeks Olympus, the home of the Gods. And with all it is the symbol of the Celestial Kingdom, the Uncreate, which “was and is, and is to come;” wherein dwell the Seven Spirits of Light, the Elohim of the Godhead. From this holy Mount proceed all the oracles and dispensations of Heaven, and nothing is done in the macrocosmic or microcosmic worlds that is not first conceived and perfect eternally in the divine counsel. “For ever, O Lord,” says the psalmist, “Thy word is written in Heaven.” And for this reason the Scriptures declare that everything in the Tabernacle of the Wilderness was “made after the pattern of it in the holy Mount.” For the Tabernacle in the Wilderness is, like the Kaabeh, a figure of the Human House of God, pitched in the wilderness of the material world, and removable from one place to another.

06. The Mystery implied in the vision of Ezekiel, is in Genesis presented under the hieroglyph of the Four Rivers which, flowing from one Source, go out to water Paradise. This source is in the holy place of the Upper Eden. It is the “well of the Water of Life,” or God, Who is the Life and Substance of all things. And the Four heads of the river have names corresponding to the zones of the fourfold unit of existence, as exemplified in the Cell, and therefore to the faces of the fourfold cherub.

Thus, Phison, the first stream, is the Ancient, or the Body, which surrounds and encloses the agricultural or mineral Earth, wherein lies gold, prosperity, and renown. The second river is Gehon, signifying the vale of Gehenna or Purgation, the stream which traverses “Ethiopia” or Ath-opis, a compound word meaning literally the Fire-Serpent, or Astral Fluid. This river, therefore, is the

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igneous body or magnetic belt. The third river, which is Hiddekel, signifies the Double Tongue of Two Meanings, the stream which rises from and flows back to ancient or anterior ages, and which guides to Assyria, the land or place of Perfection. This river is the Soul, the permanent element in man, having neither beginning nor end, taking its origin in God anterior to time, and returning whence it came individuated and perfected. Divine in nature and human in experience, the language of the Soul is double, holding converse alike with heaven and earth. The fourth river is Euphrates, that is, the Power of the Pharaoh – or Phiourah, Voice of Heaven, the oracle and divine Will of the human system. And the “paradise” watered by these four rivers is the equilibrated human nature, the “garden which the Lord God has planted in Eden,” or the Cosmos; that is, the Particular in the bosom of the Universal.

07. Not without deep meaning and design is the Book of Genesis or of Beginnings made to open with this description of the Four Rivers of Paradise. For their names and attributes supply the four wards of the Key wherewith to unlock all the mysteries of the Scriptures whose Prologue and Argument Genesis represents. These mysteries are, like the Rivers of Eden, distributed into four channels, each belonging to a distinct region of the fourfold human kingdom, whose queen and priestess is the Soul. And of these mystic or secret Scriptures, one of the most precious profound is the Drama of the Fall, whose acts, depicted in the first chapters of the Bible, serve, as a series of hieroglyphic tableaux, to delineate at once the history of Man and the object of Religion.

            08. Maimonides, the most learned of the Rabbis, speaking of the Book of Genesis, says, “We ought not to take

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literally that which is written in the story of the Creation, nor entertain the same ideas of it as are common with the vulgar. If it were otherwise, our ancient sages would not have taken so much pains to conceal the sense, and to keep before the eyes of the uninstructed the veil of allegory which conceals the truths it contains.” In the same spirit it was observed by Jerome, that “the most difficult and obscure of the holy books contain as many secrets as they do words, concealing many things even under each word.” “All the Fathers of the second century,” says Mosheim, “attributed a hidden and mysterious sense to the words of Scripture.” Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Gregory of Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Ambrose, held that the Mosaic account of Creation and of the Fall was a series of allegories. The opinion of Origen on the same subject was plainly expressed. “What man,” he asks, “is so simple as to believe that God personifying a gardener, planted a garden in the East? That the tree of Life was a real tree which could be touched, and of which the fruit had the power of conferring immortality?”

09. It is hardly necessary to enlarge on this point, or to bring forward further authorities. Suffice it to say that this interior method of interpreting sacred writings was, and still is, the method of all who posses the Gnosis, or secret knowledge of the mysteries, their mere letter being abandoned to the vulgar and to the “critics,” as the husk or shell, which serves but to conceal, encase, and preserve the life-giving seed, the priceless pearl of the true “Word.”

10. Both the story of the Fall, and all cognate Myths or Parables, are far older and more universal than the ordinary unlearned reader of the Bible supposes. For

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the Bible itself, in its Hebrew form, is a comparatively recent compilation and adaptation of mysteries, the chief scenes of which were sculptured on temple walls, and written or painted on papyri, ages before the time time of Moses. History tells us, moreover, that the Book of Genesis as it now stands, is the work, not even of Moses, but of Ezra or Esdras, who lived at the time of the Captivity – between five and six hundred years before our era – and that he recovered it and other writings by the process already described as Intuitional Memory. “My heart,” he says, “uttered understanding, and wisdom grew in my breast: for the Spirit strengthened my memory.” If, then, by such means he recovered what Moses had previously delivered orally to Israel, it is obvious that Esdras must have been initiated into the ancient tradition in a former state of existence; since no memory could have enabled him to recover that which he had never known, and which – when the Divine commission to rewrite it was given him – was so wholly lost that “no man knew any of the things that had been done in the world since the beginning.” As the Talmud says, “Ezra could not have received the Word, if Moses had not first declared it.”

11. Neither must it be supposed that we have the Books of Moses as recovered and edited by Esdras. The system of interpolation and alteration already referred to as largely applied to the Bible, especially affected the Pentateuch. And foremost among those who thus perverted it were the Pharisees, denounced in the New Testament, who greatly modified the text, introducing their own ritual into the law, incorporating with it their commentaries, and suppressing portions which condemned their doctrine and practice. According to Spinoza, “there was before the

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time of the Maccabees, no canon of holy writ extant; the books we now have were selected from among many others by and on the authority of the Pharisees of the second Temple, who also instituted the formulae for the prayers used in the synagogue. (1)

12. Sacerdotal or rabbinical as were these interpolations and corruptions, they affected principally the books of ceremonial law and historical narrative, and referred to public customs, temple rites, priestly privileges, and questions of mere national interest. They hardly touched the great parabolic Myths which lie embedded in the Hebrew Scriptures like so many gems encased in clay. And gems these are, which, from prehistoric times, have been the universal property of all initiated nations, and especially of the Hindû and Egyptian races, from which last indeed Moses originally drew them, as is occultly intimated when it is said: “And the children of Israel borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold; and they spoiled the Egyptians.”

13. With regard to this particular Myth of the Fall, the walls of ancient Thebes, Elephantine, Edfou and Karnak bear evidence that long before Moses taught, and certainly ages before Esdras wrote, its acts and symbols were embodied in the religious ceremonials of the people, of whom, according to Manetho, Moses was himself a priest. And “the whole history of the fall of man is,” as says Sharpe in a work on Egypt, “of Egyptian origin. The temptation of woman by the serpent and of man by the woman, the sacred tree of knowledge, the cherubs guarding with flaming swords the door of the Garden, the warfare declared between the woman and the serpent, may all be seen upon the Egyptian sculptured monuments.”




14. Let us now examine, in the order indicated by the hieroglyphic symbol of the Four Rivers, the significations of the mystic story to which it is prefixed.

Taking first the meaning corresponding to the river Phison or the Body we have presented to us the condition of humanity in the perfect state, with special reference to the just and harmonious relations existing in that state between the Body and the Soul. This perfect, condition is exemplified by a picture of the first Mystic Community, Lodge, or Church of men formed by the image of God, who under the name of Sons of God, were distinguished from mere rudimentary men not made in the Divine image – the still materialistic part of mankind.

This perfect condition was, and still is, reached – in the aggregate, as in the individual – by a process of evolution, or gradual unfoldment and growth from the lowest to the highest. They who first attained to this perfect state are celebrated by Ovid and others as the men of the “Golden Age,” the primal Sabbath of the world under Saturn. The Age is reached, whether individually or collectively, whenever the Divine Spirit working within, has completed the generation of Man, making him spiritually “in the image of God, male and female,” “Such is the Son of God” having power, because in him the soul dominates the body, and the body has no will of his own apart from that of the Divine Spirit.

            15. In this aspect of the parable, then, “Adam” represents the bodily or sensuous nature in man; and his wife his psychic and spiritual nature. The epithet translated “help,” “helper,” or “helpmeet,” applied to the woman, signifies an overseeing guide; and the name Isha, by

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which at first she is designated, denotes the generative substance, or feminine principle, of humanity. After the fall she is Chavah, or Eve, a term denoting the circle of life, and represented by a serpent. As the soul, she has two aspects, the earthly and the heavenly, and is indicated, therefore, by two kinds of serpent, the serpent of the dust, or tempter, and the serpent which represents the Divine wisdom or Sophia: in which aspect she is man’s initiator into divine knowledges. This heavenly serpent, the representative of the solar ray – as opposed to the serpent of the subterraneous fire – is familiar to us under the name of “Seraph,” the title given to angels of the highest order in the celestial hierarchy, and signifying “the burning,” – Sons of the Sun. In Egyptian symbology the Divine Seraph or Serpent appears constantly, surmounting a Cross and wearing the crown of Maut, the Mother, that is, the Living Mother, who is the original and celestial Reason. This is the Serpent on the Cross by looking to which, another sacred parable tells us, the Israelites were healed of the venomous bites inflicted on them by the Serpent of the Dust, the earthly and destructive reason, whose figure is derived, not from the life-giving sun-ray, but from the flame of the devouring and rapacious fire. And thus it is said in the Gospel, that by the exhibition of this Divine Wisdom, by the restoration of the “Woman” or “Mother of the Living” to her rightful throne, will the world finally be redeemed from the dominion of the serpent of the Abyss, that is, of the lower and materialistic reason. “For as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” For “Christ” is identical with Amun-Ra, “our Lord the Sun,” offspring of the heavenly Maut. And the means of delivery for mankind from the “ravenous lion” and the “fiery serpents” of the

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outer intellect or earthly “wilderness of Sin” will be the exaltation of the Dual humanity at once “Mother” and “Son.”

16. In the individual or microcosmic system, the celestial Wisdom or Soul of the Universe, finds expression as the Soul of the Man. And the condition of humanity “unfallen” and sinless, is one of obedience on the part of the sense-nature, or “Adam,” to the rule of the Soul, or “Eve.” But, by the “Fall” this state of things is directly reversed, and the “woman” or the “Living” becomes subject to this sense-nature. This is “the Curse.” And the curse will be removed, Paradise regained, and the second Sabbath of the Golden Age restored, only when the “woman” is again invested with her rightful supremacy.

17. Eve is said to be taken from the side of the sleeping Adam, because, although, the Soul subsists in all men, she becomes revealed only in such as have transcended the consciousness of the Body. When the “Adam” is asleep, passive, unassertive, the Soul, or Living man, is made manifest. Hers it is to guide, to rule, to command; hers the vocation of the Seer, the Pythoness, the Interpreter and Guardian of the Mysteries.

            18. Tokens of the superior respect once accorded to the Soul, and to Woman as the Soul’s representative, abound in the historical remains of Egypt, where, as we learn from numberless sculptures, writings, and paintings, the goddess Isis held rank above her husband, the chief instructor in the Mysteries was represented as a woman, priestly and noble families traced their pedigree through the female line, and public acts and chronicles were dated by the name of the high priestess of the year.

            19. Such then in the “Edenic” or unfallen state, are the mutual relations of Adam and Eve – Sense and Soul. And the parable sets forth the end of the Edenic Sabbath,

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the ruin of the Golden Age, the “Fall” of the Church, as brought about by disobedience to the Divine Voice, or Central Spirit to which the Soul ought to be always dutiful. Sin thus originates with the Soul, as the responsible part of man; and she whose office is to be to him overseer and guide, becomes his betrayer. The forbidden fruit communicated by the Soul to Adam is the vital flame or Consciousness, described by classical poets as the “Fire of Heaven.” For, as God is supreme and original Consciousness, the first manifestation of human consciousness has its seat in the Soul. In the pure, Edenic state, or, as it is called, the state of innocence, therefore, the shrine of this heavenly Fire is in the spiritual part of man. But Prometheus, or pseudo-thought – the spurious thought as opposed to the true Hermetic reason – steals or “draws down” this Fire from its original place, and transfers it to the outer man or body. Thenceforward, the consciousness of man ceases to reside in the soul, and takes up its abode in the body. That is to say, that man in his “fallen” condition is conscious only of the selfhood of the body, and until regenerate, or redeemed from the “Fall,” he does not again become conscious and vitalised in the soul. To find the Soul is the first step towards finding Christ; that is, as the Catholic Church puts it, “Mary brings us to Jesus.” The materialistic, unregenerate man is totally unconscious of his soul. He is aware only of the body, and his percipience of life is limited to the bodily sense. By the transference of the vitalising Fire from the “heaven” to the “earth” of the human system, the lower nature is inflamed and set at war with the Divine Spirit or “Zeus” within the man. This act is the Promethean Theft, punished so terribly by the “Father” at the hand of Hermes, the true Thought, or Angel of Understanding. For by this act, man becomes

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bound and fettered to the things of sense, the victim of a perverse will, which, as an insatiable bird of prey, continually rends and devours him. Thus is formulated that condition which Paul so graphically laments: – “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”

            20. Although, then, sin originates in the soul, the bodily nature is the ultimate offender. Hence it is to “Adam” that the interrogation is addressed: – “Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” And the penalty pronounced upon “Adam” enumerates the sorrows of the body in its “fallen” state, and foretells its inevitable return to the “dust” and “earth” of which it is; – a penalty, be it observed, which is not incurred by “Eve,” the soul. And of her we read that her will, ceasing to polarise itself inwards and upwards upon her Divine Centre, is now, by the effect of the “Fall,” directed outwards and downwards towards her earthly mate. Like “Lot’s Wife,” in another and cognate parable, “she looks back, and straightway becomes a pillar of Salt.” Salt was, in alchemic terminology, a synonym for Matter. This transformation into Salt is the converse of the “Great Work”; it is the Fixation of the Volatile. The Great Work is, in alchemic science, the Volatilisation of the Fixed. By this act of depolarisation the soul imprisons herself definitely in the body, and becomes his subject until that “Redemption” for which, says Paul, “all creation groans and travails in the pain of desire.”

            21. In this first of the four explanations of our parable,

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the Tree of Life is the secret of Transmutation or of Eternal Life, of which it is impossible for the rebellious Adam to taste. For, as long as the elements of disorder remain in the body, so long as the flesh lusts against the spirit, so long as the Microcosm admits two diverse wills and is swayed by two adverse laws; – so long is the Fruit of this Tree unattainable. If it were possible for this ruined and disobedient Adam to “eat and live for ever,” that eternal life would necessarily be the eternal hell of the Calvinists, that endless condition of torment and defiance of God, that life indestructible in the midst of destruction, which would – were it possible – constitute the division of the universe, and set up in opposition to the Divine rule, an equal and co-eternal throne of devildom.

            22. As, in this reading of the myth, Adam represents the body, Eve the soul, and the Divine Voice the Spirit, so the serpent typifies the astral element or lower reason. For this subtle element is the intermediary between soul and body, the “fiery serpent” whose food is the “dust” that is, the perception of the senses, which are concerned with the things of time and matter only. This “serpent,” if not controlled and dominated by the will of the Initiate, leads the soul into bondage and perdition, by destroying the equilibrium of the system and dividing the Hearth-Fire. But though, when not thus dominated, the astral fire becomes, through its function of Tempter, the Destroyer and agent of Typhon or Negation, it is also, when under the dominion of the married spirit and soul, an element of power and a glass of vision.

            23. The deposition from her rightful place of the Living Mother, Isha, Chavah, or Eve, typified by the celestial serpent, is then brought about by the seductions of the earthly and astral serpent. Thence ensues the ruin of the Edenic

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order. The soul is subject to the body, intuition to sense, the inner to the outer, the higher to the lower. Henceforth the monitions of the soul must be suppressed, her aspirations quenched, her conceptions difficult, her fruit quickened and brought forth with labour and sorrow. Intuition wars with passion, and every victory of the spiritual man is bought with anguish. And between the kabbalistic “woman” and the astral “serpent” there must be perpetual enmity; for henceforward the astral is antagonistic to the psychic, and between the intellectual and the intuitional “a great gulf is fixed.” For this astral serpent is the terrene Fire, and the kabbalistic woman is the Water, the Maria, which is destined to quench it. “She shall crush his head, and he shall lie in wait for her heel.”

            Such is, on the plane historical, whether of the individual or of the Church, the meaning of “Paradise” and its “loss” – the gradual attainment of a certain high grade, an the decline therefrom; a loss, the immediate effects of which manifest themselves in a subversion of the divine-natural order, and in the supremacy of the outer over the inner, the lower over the higher.

            24. To humanity in Paradise, made in the divine Image, and unfallen, were given as meat the tree-fruits and the herb-grains; then, as Ovid tells us, “men were contented with the food which Nature freely bestowed.” For the bodily appetites knew no law but that of a healthy natural intuition, and obeyed the impulse of the God within, desiring no other nourishment than that for which alone the body was anatomically and physiologically designed. But, so soon as it acquired a perverse, selfish will, a new lust arose; for a new and subhuman nature appeared in it, the nature of the beast of prey, whose image the fallen body has put on. That this is literal truth, all the poets, all the

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seers, all the regenerate testify, bearing witness also that Paradise can never be regained, Regeneration never completed, man never fully redeemed, until the body is brought under the law of Eden, and has cleansed itself thoroughly from the stain of blood. None will ever know the joys of Paradise who cannot live like Paradise-men; none will ever help to restore the Golden Age to the world who does not first restore it in himself. No man, being a shedder of blood, or an eater of flesh, ever touched the Central Secret of things, or laid hold of the Tree of Life. Hence it is written of the Holy City: “Without are dogs.” For the foot of the carnivorous beast cannot tread the golden floors; the lips polluted with blood may not pronounce the Divine Name. Never was spoken a truer word than this; and if we should speak no other, we should say all that man need know. For if he will but live the life of Eden, he shall find all its joys and its mysteries within his grasp. “He who will do the will of God, shall know of the doctrine.” But until “father and mother” are forsaken – that is, until the disciple is resolved to let no earthly affections or desires withhold him from entering the Perfect Way – Christ will not be found nor Paradise regained. “Many indeed begin the rites,” says Plato, “but few are fully purified.” And a greater than Plato has warned us that “the Way is strait and the Gate narrow that lead unto Life, and few they are who find it.” (1)




25. Coming next to the philosophical reading of our Parable, we find that on this plane the Man is the Mind or rational Intellect, out of which is evolved the Woman, the Affection or Heart; that the Tree of Knowledge represents

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Maya or Illusion; the Serpent, the Will of the Body; the Tree of Life, the Divine Gnosis – or interior knowledge; and the sin which has brought and which brings ruin on mankind, Idolatry.

In this aspect of the Fall, we have presented to us the decline of Religion from the celestial to the astral. The affection of the unfallen mind is fixed on things above, spiritual and real, and not on things beneath, material and phantasmal. Idolatry is the adoration of the shadow instead of the substance, the setting up of eidolon in the place of the God. It is thus no specific art, but the general tendency towards Matter and Sense, that constitutes the Fall. And of this tendency the world is full, for it is the “original sin” of every man born of the generation of “Adam”; and only that man is free of it who is “born again of the Spirit” and made “one with the Father,” his own central God.

            26. Into this sin of Idolatry the human Heart declines by listening to the monitions and beguilements of the lower will, the will of the sensual nature. Withdrawing her desire from the Tree of Life – the Gnosis – the Affection fixes on the false and deceitful apples of Illusion, pleasant and desirable “to the eyes” or outer senses. “Your eyes shall be opened,” urges the lower will, “and you shall be as Gods, knowing both worlds.” The Affection yields to the seductions of this promise, she entangles herself in Illusion, she communicates the poison to the Mind, and all is lost. Man knows indeed, but the knowledge he has gained is that of his own shame and nakedness. “Their eyes were opened, and they knew – that they were naked.” By this act of idolatry man becomes instantly aware of the body, of sense, of Matter, of appearance; he falls into another and a lower world, precipitated headlong by that fatal step outwards

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from the celestial to the astral terrene. Henceforth the fruit of the divine Gnosis, the healing Tree, is not for him, he has lost the faculty of discerning Substance and Reality; the eye of the Spirit is closed, and that of Sense is opened; he is immersed in delusion and shadow, and the glamour of Maya. Sudden divorce has taken place between the spirit and the soul. He has lost the “Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory.” And, so long as he remains in the “wilderness” of the illusory world, the Gnosis is guarded against him by the Elementary Spirits and their fourfold swords, which, to the man having lost both the power and the secret of the Dissolvent, are an impenetrable barrier.

27. We now enter on the Ethical and Psychic interpretation of the myth, which interpretation is itself a dual character, affecting on the one hand the Church, on the other the Individual.

            In this third aspect of the parable the Man represents the human Reason; the Woman, Faith, or the religious Conscience; the Serpent, the lower nature; the Tree of Knowledge the kingdom of this world; and the Tree of Life the kingdom of God. The religious Conscience set over the human Reason as his guide, overseer, and ruler, whether in the general, as the Church, or in the particular, as the Individual, falls when – listening to the suggestions of the lower nature – she desires, seeks, and at length defiles herself with the ambitions, vanities, and falsehoods of the kingdom of this present world. Nor does she fall alone. For ceasing to be a trustworthy guide, she becomes herself serpent and seducer to human Reason, leading him into false paths, betraying and deluding him at every turn, until, if she have her way, she will end by plunging him into the lowest depths of abject ignorance, foolishness, and weakness,

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there to be devoured by the brood of Unreason, and annihilated forever. For she is now no longer the true wife Faith, she is become the wanton, Superstition; and rather than heed to obey monitions such as hers, he must, if he would save himself, assert dominion over her and keep her in bondage and subjection to his authority. Better far that he should be master in the Man, than Superstition, whose method is folly, whose end is madness and death.

28. The church at her best, unfallen, is the glass to the lamp of Truth, guarding the sacred flame within, and transmitting unimpaired to her children the light received upon its inner surface. Such is the function of the priesthood, in idea and intention; but not, now at least, in fact and deed. For through the failure of the priesthood to resist the materialising influences of the world upon the side exposed to the world, the lamp-glass has become clouded that the light within is either unable to pass through it at all, or passes only to cast around, instead of genial rays, ghastly and misleading shadows. Or, may – be, the light has expired altogether; and, not the maintenance of the flame, but the concealment of its loss, is become the prime object of solicitude for its whilom guardians.

            29. The world’s history shows that hitherto this Fall has been the common fate of all Churches. Nor is its cause far to seek, seeing that all human histories are essentially one and the same, whether the subject be an individual or an aggregation of individuals. A Church is, like every other personal organism, a compound organism. Between the circumferential containing body, and the central informing spirit – having a side turned to each, and uniting the mental with the spiritual – stands the soul to which the Church, Priesthood, or Intuition corresponds, in order by her meditation to reconcile the world to God and maintain

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the Man in grace. And so long as, by virtue of the purity of such medium, the stream of life and light from the central spirit of Truth is enabled to find free course and circulation, perfect health continues in the system. But when, inclining towards the outer and lower elements, the Church abandons the inner and higher, and becomes of the earth earthy, the flame within her shrine, choked and quenched, departs, leaving the sanctuary tenantless. Then, no longer of the heavenly, but of the earthly kingdom, the fallen Church becomes the betrayer and the enemy of man. To confess the truth – that she has suffered the sacred flame to expire – would, in respect of all for which she is now solicitous – her material sway and interests – be fatal. Hence the fact that she is naked and empty must be studiously concealed, and all approach forbidden, that no one not concerned to keep the secret may spy upon her darkened shrine. Thenceforth the Church stands between God and the people, not to bring them together, but to keep them apart. With light and spirit lost to view, and the way to the kingdom of God blocked by superstition, the rational man either ceases to believe that any such kingdom subsists, and, falling in his turn, he plunges into the gulf of atheism or agnosticism; or, withheld by his traitor spouse from attaining the fruition of the Tree of Life, contents himself with “stones for bread,” and with “serpents” of the astral in place of the true celestial mysteries.

30. Thus fallen and degraded, the Church becomes, as mankind too well knows, a Church “of this world,” greedy of worldly dignities, emoluments, and dominion, intent on foisting on the belief of her votaries, in the name of authority and orthodoxy, fables and worse than fables, apples of Sodom and Gomorrah, Dead-sea fruit; – a Church jealous

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of “the Letter which killeth”; ignorant of, or bitterly at enmity with, “the Spirit which giveth life.”




31. We now reach the last and innermost interpretation of our fourfold hieroglyph, the spiritual and creative secret embodied in the Edenic allegory. This secret is sometimes more obscurely alluded to as the Lapse of heavenly beings from their first happy estate into sub-celestial spheres, and their final redemption by means of penance done through incarnation in the flesh. It need scarcely be said that this imagined Lapse is also a parable designed to veil and preserve a truth. And in its interpretation is found the creative secret, the projection of Spirit into Matter; the Fall or Descent of Substance into Maya or Illusion. Hence results Chavah, the Eve of Genesis, and circle of life conditioned as past, present, and future, and corresponding to Jehovah, the covenant name of Deity. In this reading of the parable the Tree of Divination or Knowledge becomes Motion, or the Kalpa – the period of Existence as distinguished from Being; the Tree of Life is Rest, or the Sabbath, the Nirvana; Adam is Manifestation; the Serpent – no longer of the lower but of the higher sphere – is the celestial Serpent or Seraph of heavenly Counsel. For now the whole signification of the myth is changed, and the act of Archë, the Woman, is the Divine act of Creation. Ase, the root of the Hebrew word for Woman, signifies the generating female Fire, the Living Substance producing or causing production. Its Coptic form, Est, gives Esta or Hestia, the goddess of the temple-fire, for the continual preservation of which the order of Vestal virgins was established. This word, Est,

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is identical also with the Latin and Greek equivalents of IS, whence are derived all the modern European forms of the same affirmative, as also the names Esther and Easter.

32. Adam signifies the Red, hence the Blood; and in Blood, Substance becomes incarnate and takes form as Nature or Isis, which name is, of course, but another rendering of the affirmative EST. Hence Nature, the incarnate Archë, is said to be born from the side of Adam, or Manifestation by Blood. “Blood,” as says “Eliphas Levi,” “is the first incarnation of the Universal Fluid; it is the materialised vital Light. It lives only by perpetually transforming itself, for it is the universal Proteus, the great Arcanum of Life.”

33. Now, as has been said in a former discourse, Motion is the means by which Spirit becomes visible as Matter, for Spirit and Matter represent two conditions of one thing. Therefore by the Tree of Divination of Good and Evil, in this interpretation, must be understood that condition by means of which Spirit, projected into appearance, becomes manifested under the veil of Maya.

34. Among the sacred symbols and insignia of the Gods depicted in Egyptian sculpture, none is repeated so often as the Sphere. This Sphere is the emblem of Creative Motion, because the Manifesting Force is rotatory; being, in fact, the “Wheel of the Spirit of Life” described by Ezekiel as “a wheel within a wheel,” inasmuch as the whole system of the universe, from the planet to its ultimate particle, revolves in the same manner. And for this reason, and as an evidence of the knowledge which dictated the ancient symbology of the Catholic Church, the Eucharistic Wafer, figure of the Word made Flesh, is circular. The sacramental sphere, poised on the head of a Serpent or Seraph, is a

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common hieroglyph in Egyptian sacred tableaux; and sculptures bordered with processions of such emblematic figures are frequent in the ancient temples. The apple, or round Fruit of the Tree of the Kalpa – of which, by the advice of the “Serpent” of heavenly Counsel, the Divine Archë partakes, and thereby brings about the “Fall” or Manifestation of Spirit in Matter – is no other than the Sacramental Host, type of the Bread of Life or Body of God, figured in the Orb of the Sun, reflected in the disk of every star, planet, and molecule, and elevated for adoration on the Monstrance of the universe.

35. Only when the Naros, or Cycle of the Six Days, shall again reach their Seventh Day, will “the Lord of the Seventh” – whom the Latins adored with unveiled heads under the name of Septimianus – return, and the veil of Illusion or Maya, be taken away. The anticipation of the Seventh Day of the renewed Arcadia, the Seven Days’ festival of liberty and peace, was held by the Greeks under the name of the Kronia, and by the Latins under that of the Saturnalia. This redemptive Sabbath is spoken of in the gospel as the “harvest of the end of the world,” when Saturn or Sator (the Sower) as “Lord of the Harvest,” “shall return again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” And when that day comes, the Fruit of the Tree of Life, or Nirvana, shall be given for the healing of the universe; rest from motion shall put an end to Matter; and Substance, now by the “Fall” brought under the dominion of Adam or Manifestation, shall return to Her original divine estate.

36. It remains only to speak of the symbolic Bow or Cup encircling the microcosmic car of Adonai, and representing, as already explained, the heavenly Mount, of which the phenomenal heaven is the transcript. The planisphere

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of the heavens, familiar in all ancient astrological science, is divided into two parts by a line passing from east to west, and representing the horizon. The portion of the planisphere below this horizontal line comprises the lower and invisible hemisphere; that which is above, the upper and visible. At the opening of the year the constellation of the Celestial Virgin, Astræa, Isis, or Ceres, is in ascension. She has beneath her feet in the lower horizon the sign Python or Typhon, the Dragon of the Tree of the Hesperides, who rises after her, pursuing her, and aiming his fangs at her heel.

37. This heavenly Virgin is the regenerate Eve, Maria the Immaculate, the Mother of the Sun-God. Her first “decan” is that of the Sun, whose birth as Mithras was celebrated on the twenty-fifth day of December – the true birth of the year – at midnight, at which time she appears above the visible horizon. The figure of the sun was consequently placed over this “decan” on the planispheric chart, and rests, therefore, on the head of the Virgin, while the first “decan” of Libra, which is that of the Moon, is under her feet. In her we recognise the Woman of the Apocalypse, victorious over her adversary the Dragon, and restoring by her manifestation the equilibrium – Libra – of the universe.

38. Thus the Heavens eternally witness to the promise of the final redemption of the Earth, and of the return of the Golden Age, and the restoration of Eden. And the keynote of that desired harmony is to be found in the exaltation on all the universal fourfold planes, physical, philosophical, physic, and celestial, of the WOMAN.

Once again, in the end as in the beginning, shall the Soul rehabilitated, the Affection regenerated, the Intuition purified,

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the Divine Substance redeemed from Matter, be throned, crowned, and glorified.

39. That the time of rising of this Celestial Virgin and of the rehabilitation of truth by the Woman-Messias of the Interpretation is near at hand, they who watch the “times” and the “heavens” may know by more than one token. To name but one: the sign Leo, which upon the celestial chart precedes the ascension of the Woman, going before her as her herald, is the sign of the present Head of the Catholic Church. When assuming that title, he declared his office to be that of the “Lion of the Tribe of Juda,” the domicile of the Sun, the tribe appointed to produce the Christ. To the ascension of this constellation, preparing, as it were, the Way of the Divine Virgin, the prophecy of Israel in Genesis refers: –


Juda is a strong lion; my son, thou art gone up. The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda till the coming of the Messenger – or Shiloh – the expectation of the nations.”


            And not only does the chief Bishop of the Church bear this significant name of the “Lion,” but he is also the thirteenth of that name, and Thirteen is the number of the Woman and of the lunar cycle, the number of Isis and of the Microcosm. It is the number which indicates the fullness of all things, and the consummation of the “Divine Marriage,” the At-one-ment of Man and God. (1)

            Moreover the Arms of Leo XIII. represent a Tree on a Mount, between two triune Lilies, and in the dexter chief point a blazing Star; with the motto “Lumen in Coelo.” What is this tree but the Tree of Life;

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these lilies but the Lilies of the new Annunciation – of the Ave which is to reverse the curse of Eva? What star is this, if not the Star of the Second Advent? History repeats itself only because all history is already written in “heaven.”

            40. For the signs of the Zodiac, or of the “Wheel of Life,” as the name signifies, are not arbitrary, they are the Words of God, traced on the planisphere by the finger of God, and first expressed in intelligible hieroglyphs by men of the “Age of Saturn,” who knew the truth, and held the Key of the Mysteries. The Wheel of the Zodiac thus constituted the earliest Bible; for on it is traced the universal history of the whole Humanity. It is a mirror at once of Past, Present and Future; for these three are but modes of the Eternal NOW, which, philosophically, is the only tense. And its twelve signs are the twelve Gates of the heavenly City of religious science; the Kingdom of God the Father.

41. The philosophy of the day, unable, through its ignorance of the soul, to solve the riddle of the Zodiac, concludes that all sacred history is a mere tissue of fables, framed in accordance with the accidental forms of the constellations. But, as the Initiate knows, these signs are written on the starry chart because they represent eternal verities in the experience of the soul. They are the processes or acts of the soul, under individuation in Man. And so far from being ascribed to Man because written in the Zodiac, they were written in the Zodiac because recognised as occurring in humanity. In the Divine order, pictures precede written words as the expression of ideas. The planisphere of the Zodiac is thus a picture-bible; and the images embodied in it have controlled the expression of all written Revelation.


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42. This discourse was closed for the writer by a vision, an account of which will form an equally fitting conclusion for the reader. (1) This vision was as follows: –

“A golden chalice, like those used in Catholic rites, but having three linings, was given to me by an Angel. These linings, he told me, signified the three degrees of the heavens – purity of life, purity of heart, and purity of doctrine. Immediately afterwards, there appeared a great dome-covered temple, Moslem in style, and on the threshold of it a tall Angel clad in linen, who with an air of command was directing a party of men engaged in destroying and throwing into the street numerous crucifixes, bibles, prayer-books, altar-utensils, and other sacred emblems. As I stood watching, somewhat scandalised at the apparent sacrilege, a Voice at a great height in the air, cried with startling distinctness, “All the idols he shall utterly destroy!” Then the same Voice, seeming to ascend still higher, cried to me, “Come hither and see!” Immediately it appeared to me that I was lifted up by my hair and carried above the earth. And suddenly there arose in mid-air the apparition of a man of majestic aspect, in an antique garb, and surrounded by a throng of prostrate worshippers. At first the appearance of this figure was strange to me; but while I looked intently at it, a change came over the face and dress, and I thought I recognised Buddha – the Messiah of

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India. But scarcely had I convinced myself of this, than a great Voice, like a thousand voices shouting in unison, cried to the worshippers: “Stand upright on your feet: – worship God only!” And again the figure changed, as though a cloud had passed before it, and now it seemed to assume the shape of Jesus. Again, I saw the kneeling adorers, and again the mighty Voice cried, “Arise! Worship God only!” The sound of this Voice was like thunder, and I noted that it had seven echoes. Seven times the cry reverberated, ascending with each utterance, as though mounting from sphere to sphere. Then suddenly I fell through the air, as though a hand had been withdrawn from sustaining me: and again touching the earth, I stood within the temple I had seen in the first part of my vision. At its east end was a great altar, from above and behind which came faintly a white and beautiful Light, the radiance of which was arrested and obscured by a dark curtain suspended from the dome before the altar. And the body of the temple, which, but for the curtain, would have been fully illuminated, was plunged in gloom, broken only by the fitful gleams of a few half-expiring oil-lamps, hanging here and there from the vast cupola. At the right of the altar stood the same tall Angel I had before seen on the temple threshold, holding in his hand a smoking censer. Then, observing that he was looking earnestly at me, I said to him: “Tell me, what curtain is this before the Light, and why is the temple in darkness?” And he answered, “This veil is not One, but Three; and the Three are Blood, Idolatry, and the Curse of Eve. And to you it is given to withdraw them; be faithful and courageous; the time has come.” Now the first curtain was red, and very heavy; and with a great effort I drew it aside, and said, “I have put away the veil of blood from before Thy Face; shine,

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O Lord God!” But a Voice from behind the folds of the two remaining coverings answered me, “I cannot shine, because of the idols.” And lo, before me a curtain of many colours, woven about with all manner of images, crucifixes, madonnas, Old and New Testaments, prayer-books, and other religious symbols, some strange and hideous like the idols of China and Japan, some beautiful like those of the Greeks and Christians. And the weight of the curtain was like lead, for it was thick with gold and silver embroideries. But with both hands I tore it away, and cried, “I have put away the idols from before Thy Face; shine, O Lord God!” And now the Light was clearer and brighter. But yet before me hung a third veil, all of black; and upon it was traced in outline the figure of four Lilies on a single stem inverted, their cups opening downwards. And from behind this veil, the Voice answered me again, “I cannot shine, because of the curse of Eve.” Then I put forth all my strength, and with a great will rent away the curtain, crying, “I have put away her curse from before Thee. Shine, O Lord God!”

And there was no more a veil, but a landscape, more glorious and perfect than words can paint, a Garden of absolute beauty, filled with trees of palm, and olive, and fig, rivers of clear water and lawns of tender green; and distant groves and forests framed about by mountains crowned with snow; and on the brow of their shining peaks a rising Sun, whose light it was I had seen behind the veils. And about the Sun, in mid-air hung white misty shapes of great Angels, as clouds at morning float above the place of dawn. And beneath, under a mighty tree of cedar, stood a white elephant, bearing in his golden houdah a beautiful woman robed as queen, and wearing a crown. But while I looked, entranced, and longing to

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look for ever, the garden, the altar, and the temple were carried up from me into Heaven. Then as I stood gazing upwards, came again the Voice, at first high in the air, but falling earthwards as listened. And behold, before me appeared the white pinnacle of a minaret, and around and beneath it the sky was all gold and red with the glory of the rising Sun. And I perceived that now the voice was that of a solitary Muezzin standing on the minaret with uplifted hands and crying: –


“Put away Blood from among you!

Destroy your Idols!

Restore your Queen!”


And straightway a Voice, like that of an infinite multitude, coming as though from above and around and beneath my feet – a Voice like a wind rising upwards from caverns, under the hills to their loftiest far-off heights among the stars – responded –


“Worship God alone!” (1)




(145:1) This lecture was written by Anna Kingsford, with the exception of pars. 28 and 29, which were written by Edward Maitland; and was delivered by her on Monday the 27th June, 1881 (Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 17, 21, 33).

(147:1) Epistles of Jerome.

(153:1) Tractatus Theologico-Politicus.

(161:1) See Appendix III.

(170:1) When, on the death of Pius IX. In 1878, Cardinal Peci was elected Pope, he assumed the name of Leo, and became Leo XIII. He died in 1903.

(172: 1) Edward Maitland said: “It was more than a vision. It was a drama actually enacted by her [A.K.] in sleep, wherein she was withdrawn from the body for the purpose, thus making it real for the plane on which it occurred. The excitement of it was so intense that some days passed before her system fully recovered its normal state. We regarded it as a veritable annunciation to her of the redemptive work to be accomplished through her” (Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 21).

(175:1) See C.W.S., part i., No. ii. (2), p. 8.



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