LECTURE THE SEVENTH (1)
THE FALL (No. II)
01. OUR subject is again the cataclysmal event mystically called the Fall of Man. Before entering upon it we will recapitulate briefly what has been said respecting the nature of man. As already explained this is fourfold. This fourfold nature is itself included in a dual personality. Consisting of male and female, Reason and Intuition, Man is, in this sense, a twofold being. But the masculine moiety comprises the dualism of Sense and Intellect; and the feminine moiety, the dualism of Soul and Conscience.
02. Owing to this duality of his constitution, every doctrine relating to Man has, primarily a dual significance and application. And owing to his fourfoldness, it has also, secondarily, a fourfold significance and application. The interpretation, therefore, of any doctrine must, to be complete, be at the least twofold. And since there is between the inner and outer spheres of man’s being an exact correspondence, by virtue of which, whatever subsists or occurs in the one sphere has its counterpart in the other, the terms which describe the one apply also to the other;
and no interpretation or application is complete which does not include both spheres.
03. Thus it comes – to quote a fragment of Hermetic derivation – that: –
“All Scriptures which are the true Word of God have a dual interpretation, the Intellectual and the Intuitional, the Apparent and the Hidden.
“For nothing can come forth from God save that which is fruitful.
“As is the nature of God, so is the Word of God’s Mouth.
“The Letter alone is barren; the Spirit and the Letter give Life.
“But that Scripture is the more excellent which is exceeding fruitful, and brings forth abundant signification.
“For God is able to say many things in one; as the perfect Ovary contains many seeds in its Chalice.
“Therefore there are in the Scriptures of God’s Word certain Writings which, as richly yielding Trees, bear more abundantly than others in the self-same holy Garden.
“And one of the most excellent is the Parable of the Fall, which, as a stream parted into four branches, has a fourfold head, and is a word exceeding rich.” (1)
For a parable it is, and not a history, as ordinarily understood, but having a hidden, that is, a mystic meaning; – a parable, moreover, which, while founded indeed upon a particular fact, is true for all time, in that it is perpetually being enacted. Being thus, the Parable of the Fall constitutes an Eternal Verity.
04. The opening chapters of the sacred books exhibit, then, not merely events occurring in, and having relation to, a particular place or time, but the meaning and object of religion at large, the creation of man, the nature of sin,
and the method of salvation; and all these as perpetually subsisting. These chapters constitute thus a kind of argument or abstract prefixed to the divine drama of man’s spiritual history. And the key to their interpretation is the word NOW.
05. For, in the Divine Mind, there is no past, in the Divine economy, no future. God is I AM, and always IS. The term Jehovah combines in one word the tenses past, present, and future of the verb I AM. Scripture is a record of that which is always taking place. Thus, the Spirit of God, which is original Life, is always moving upon the face of the waters, or heavenly deep, which is original Substance. And the One, which consists of these two, is always putting forth alike the Macrocosm of the universe and the Microcosm of the individual, and is always making man in the image of God, and placing him in a garden of innocence and perfection, the garden of his own unsophisticated nature. And man is always falling away from that image and quitting that garden for the wilderness of sin, being tempted by the serpent of sense, his own lower element. And from this condition and its consequences he is always being redeemed by the blood of the sacrifice always being made for him by the Christ Jesus, who is Son at once of God and of man, and is always being born of a pure virgin: – dying, rising, and ascending into heaven.
06. For these are, one and all, mystic terms denoting facts of perpetual recurrence in the history of the Soul, and necessary to salvation. It depends, however, upon the sense in which they are understood, whether they minister to salvation or to condemnation. The letter, it is declared, killeth; the letter and the spirit together have and confer life. For, while interpreted in one sense
– the sense of the spirit – they are divine truths; interpreted in another sense – the sense of the letter – they are idolatrous falsehoods. And inasmuch as idolatry consists in the materialisation of spiritual mysteries, and the substitution for the true things signified, of their material symbols; those interpretations are idolatrous which give to mystical doctrines physical applications. Now, all Scripture given by inspiration of God is mystical; and, in its esoteric sense, deals not with material things, but with spiritual realities, the mystic intention of the things named being alone implied, and by no means the things themselves. And this rule holds good alike of those two divisions of Scripture which are called respectively the Old and the New Testament.
08. So far, however, from being intended to represent the actual natural history, either of the planet or of man, or to be what now-a-days it is the fashion to call scientific, it is so contrived as to make that history appear to be the reverse of what it really is. For, read by the superficial
sense, it represents man as created perfect from the first, by a power working from without; whereas, the truth is, that he is created by gradual development from rudimentary being, by a power – the Divine Spirit – working from within. For this is ever the method of the Divine procedure, and it is this that the parable really implies.
09. But only when it is understood what the mystic books mean by Man, does the true meaning appear. And as, until this is understood, it is vain to attempt to interpret those books, a definition of the term Man, as therein employed, must be our first concern.
A materialistic science, discerning only the outward appearance of things, and taking, therefore, no account of qualities, necessarily makes the Form all. Hence, for it, man is but a primate among the animals, and sufficiently defined under the terms Mammal, Biped, Bimanous, and the like. The notion that the form, to be valid, must be filled up, and that he who is man in form only, and is devoid of all the qualities, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, which are comprised in the term humanity, is not really man, is a notion which does not enter into the conception of the Materialist.
10. According to mystical doctrine, on the other hand, he who is human in form only, is but man rudimentary, and to be classed, in all essential respects, with those lower grades of humanity, the plants and animals. He has, like them, the potentiality only of humanity, and is no realised humanity. For, according to this doctrine, man’s supreme function is knowledge; so that he is not man until he knows, or, at least, has an organon of knowledge, and is capable of knowing. Besides, the very term knowledge, has, in this relation, a special meaning. For the
mystic applies it only to the cognition which is of Realities. That alone for him is knowledge, which has for its subject the nature of Being, his own nature, that is, and God’s; not phenomena merely, but Substance, and its method of operation. And, forasmuch as, in order to have this knowledge, a man must have attained his spiritual consciousness, it follow that, according to mystical definition, man is not man until he has attained the consciousness of his spiritual nature. To attain this, and this alone, is to attain true manhood. And, prior to the attainment of this, the individual is but as an infant, incompetent to fulfil, or even to comprehend, the functions of manhood.
11. The reason of this is, that man is a dual being, not masculine only or feminine only, but both of these; not man only or woman only, but man and woman. And he is this in respect, not of his exterior and physical, but of his interior and spiritual nature. For, since humanity is dual, that which, being man, represents humanity, must be dual also. And this cannot be on the plane merely physical, whereon but one moiety only of the human dualism can be expressed in the same individual. On this plane it takes two persons, a man and a woman to express the whole humanity. And it is by means of its two sexes that the body constitutes a symbol of the humanity which, in being interior and permanent, is alone the humanity which is real.
12. For – as already stated – that whereby the man attains to manhood is woman. It is his power to recognise, appreciate and appropriate her, that stamps him, physically, man. She it is who, influencing him through the affections kindled by her in him, withdraws him from his outward and aimless course, in which left to himself, he would sooner or later be dissipated and lost; and
him round herself, as centre, redeems him and makes him into a system capable of
self-perpetuation, supplementing and complementing meanwhile his masculine
qualities as will, force, and intellect with her feminine qualities, as
endurance, love, and intuition. Thus, by the addition of herself she makes him
13. Only because it is already so with Humanity on the inner plane, is it so on the outer. Whatever the sex of the person, physically, each individual is a dualism, consisting of exterior and interior, manifested personality and essential individuality, body and soul, which are to each other masculine and feminine, man and woman; he the without, and she the within. And all that the woman on the planes physical and social, is to the man, that she is also on the
planes intellectual and spiritual. For, as Soul and Intuition of Spirit, she withdraws him, physically and mentally, from dissipation and perdition in the outer and material and by centralising and substantialising him redeems and crowns him; – from a phantom converting him into an entity, from a mortal into an immortal, from a man into a god. Without her, it were better both for himself and for others that he should not be at all. On no plane of being is it good that the man-element be alone. For without Love, Force can but work evil until it be spent. And such is man and his doom until he finds and is found of her, the soul and woman within him. She is to him very “mother of the living,” and without her is no life. And she is this because she is, by her nature, that wherein the Divine Life, resides. For, as the soul is the life of the man, so is the spirit, which is God, the life of the soul. Thus is she mediator between man and God, to draw them together in herself. And only he is truly alive, is truly Man, and made after the Divine Image, in whom she thus operates. Redeeming him from chaos and making him a Cosmos, she is the centripetal to his centrifugal, the attractive to his separative, the constructive to his destructive, the synthesis to his analysis, the being to his seeming, the reality to his illusory. With her advent he begins to be; and thenceforth, through her, he can claim kindred with the I AM.
14. Man, then, in our parable, is represented as created perfect in that he is, in the mystical sense, male and female; that is, he has a soul – anima divina – superadded to his exterior personality – anima bruta – each of which is conscious of the separate existence of each. Their attainment of this consciousness is represented under the allegory of the creation of the woman; they first then begin to exist for each other. The time chosen for the attainment of
this stage in their history is an important element in the process. For it is the same for all men. It is not while engaged in the active exercise of his masculine qualities that man first becomes conscious of his other and better, because interior and divine, self. His aggressive and destructive tendencies must have been exhausted, and the animal in him, his own exterior self – in a word, the man part of him – cast into deep slumber, before the woman in him can reveal herself, and make him conscious of something, or rather some one, within him – himself, yet differing from himself, and higher and better than anything he has before had or been.
15. Once recognised, and her reality and superiority admitted, there is no height of goodness and knowledge to which she cannot raise him, if but only he follow her lead, and keep her free from defilement by Matter and Sense, the direct traffic with which appertains to him. In order properly to fulfil her function in regard to the man, and attract his regards upwards to her, she must herself aspire continually to the Divine Spirit within her, the central sun of herself, as she is that of the man. If, withdrawing her gaze from this, she fix it on things without and below, she falls, and in her fall takes him with her. Except through her, he cannot fall; for only through her does he at all rise, being, by his very nature the lowermost, and of himself incapable of rising. For he rests on the material plane, and is of earth earthy.
16. It is not because Matter is in itself evil that the soul’s descent into it constitutes a fall and ensures disaster. It is because to the soul Matter is a forbidden thing. So that the act constitutes a disobedience. The prohibition, however, is not an arbitrary one, but is founded in the soul’s own nature, as also is the penalty attached to her
transgression. Only by remaining spiritual substance can soul subsist as soul, having all the potentialities of soul. By quitting her own proper condition and descending into Matter, she takes upon herself the limitations of Matter. As between Spirit and Matter there is no boundary line, it is only by the maintenance of a will set exclusively spiritwards that a soul can be held from submitting into the lower condition of Matter, finally to disintegrate and perish.
17. Such a fall, it will be well to repeat, does not involve the loss of any portion of the divine Substance. The animating spirit is withdrawn, and the constituent elements are separated. That only which perishes is the individuality constituted of these. And it perishes through its own persistent refusal of that “Gift of God” which is Eternal Life, the gift, namely, of portion of God’s Self or Spirit. Refusing this, man refuses life, as he is free to do. God rejects and annihilates no one. Man, by his rejection of God, annihilates his own individuality. And God cannot make man on any other terms. And this, for the reason that God is omnipotent. God would not be omnipotent were the individual indestructible. For then there would be something not God, possessing all the power of God. So far from this doctrine being an impugnment of the Divine love and goodness, it is essential to these qualities. God, we have said, rejects and destroys nothing. But there is in things evil an element of self-destruction, in the operation of which lies the safety of the universe. Were the fact otherwise – could individuals subsist forever in a condition of opposition to the Divine will – then would evil itself be eternised; and the universe, divided against itself, would fall. And, on the other hand, were man not free to annihilate himself, but salvation were compulsory, existence,
instead of being a solemn reality, would be a farce wherein man and the soul would be but mechanical puppets altogether unworthy a divine creation. By the law of Heredity, God’s freedom involves man’s freedom: and this involves the freedom to renounce God, and with God, all being. Thus is the saying true, “For him who will not have God, God is not.”
is through the soul, and the soul only, that man learns the Divine will, and
learning it, saves himself. And the clearness with which the soul, on her part,
discerns and transmits that will, depends upon her purity. In this word purity
lies the essence of all religion. It is the burden of the whole Bible and of all
bibles. Always is purity insisted on as the means to salvation; always impurity
as the cause of condemnation. To this uniformity of doctrine the Parable of the
Fall is no exception. With the soul pure, man dwells in
purity. For only when she has regained her “virginity” and become “immaculate,” can the Christ – his savior – be born of her.
19. The full significance of the Parable under consideration, and the unity of the mystic Scriptures, become conspicuously apparent when we collate their various corresponding utterances, as by taking into account those also of the Book of Revelation. For it is there that the doctrine of the Woman receives its crowning recognition as the foundation of that true Christianity which those persistent suppressors of the women – the world’s materialising priesthoods – have so nearly extinguished. Let us, then – though at the risk of some repetition – collate these two utterances, between the delivery of which so many thousands of years elapsed.
21. From this state of perfection Humanity soon falls. For Eve, the soul, withdrawing her steadfast gaze from the proper object of her regard, namely, her spirit, God, fastens them on things below, things earthly and material, which are to her the “forbidden fruit,” since her nature is spiritual. Beholding this fruit, and finding it pleasant to the eyes, she
puts forth her hand and plucks of it, and gives of it to her husband, or Adam, to eat with her.
22. This is ever the history of sin. The exterior personality cannot of itself sin, for it is not a responsible being. Sin is of the soul; and it comes of the soul’s inclination to the things of sense. Taking of this fruit and enjoying it, she is said to eat it. And at her instigation “Adam” does likewise. And thenceforth, instead of the soul operating within him to purify and enlighten him, and lead him upwards towards the Spirit, together they become sensual and debased. And thus the sin, which has its commencement in the thought of the soul, afterwards becomes developed into action through the energy of the body or masculine part.
23. The sin consummated, the result is inevitable. Adam and his wife, the man and his soul, hear the voice of the Lord God speaking through their conscience. And sensible that they are no longer clad in the purity which alone enables man to face his Maker, they fly, as one caught naked, to hide from the Divine presence. Having rejected God, and no longer looking up to Him, as her Lord and King, the soul, Eve, falls under the sway of Adam and the body. He rules her, and her desire is unto him: and thenceforth Matter has dominion in them over the spirit. The garden of perfection is lost, and the world becomes for them a wilderness.
24. Meanwhile Adam, being interrogated by the Divine Voice, lays the blame upon Eve. For, but for the soul within him, the man had not known or been capable of committing sin; sin being possible only where there is a sense of right and wrong, which the soul alone possesses. Eve, interrogated in her turn, throws the blame on the serpent of Matter – sense, or the lower nature – through
whose allurements she has fallen. It is no particular act that thus constitutes sin. And sin does not consist in fulfilling any of the functions of nature. Sin consists in acting without or against the spirit, and in not seeking the divine sanction in everything that is done. For sin is not of the physical but of the spiritual man. And by the spirit the act is redeemed or condemned. It is sheer materialism and idolatry to regard an act as itself sinful. For to do this, is to invest that which is merely physical with a spiritual attribute.
25. The natural result of the soul’s enslavement to Matter is her liability to extinction. In her own nature the soul is immortal. That is, she does not partake the death which befalls the body, but survives to take on other bodies, and continues to do so until she has finally built up a spiritual man worthy and capable of enduring for ever. But the lower she sinks herself into Matter, the lower become her vitality and power of recovery. So that unless she turn and mend, she must ultimately perish; for she will lose altogether the Divine Spirit which is her necessary life.
26. Notwithstanding the soul’s fall, then, there is still hope of recovery for man. She shall yet, she is divinely assured, “crush the serpent’s head.” Not her seed only, but herself – the soul – when fully restored. For this is the true rendering, both in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the far older Bible of the Zodiac – that indefeasible prophecy of the soul’s history. So that she who has been the cause of the fall, shall be the means also of redemption. “I will put enmity,” says God to the Serpent, “between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” For the fallen soul, retaining in some degree her spirituality, and recoiling from a merely material estimate of things,
constitutes in the man a constant protest against his engrossment by his lower nature. It is, therefore, of the soul, restored to her pure estate and not of the body and its animal propensities, that the redeemed man must be born. The first Adam is of the earth, earthy, and liable to death. The second is “from heaven,” and triumphant over death. For “sin has no more dominion over him.” He, therefore, is the product of a soul purified from defilement by Matter, and released from subjection to the body. Such a soul is called virgin. And she has for spouse, not Matter – for that she has renounced – but the Divine Spirit, which is God. And the man born of this union is in the image of God, and is God made man; that is, he is Christ, and it is the Christ thus born in every man who redeems him and endows him with eternal life. For in him the man becomes transmuted from Matter into Spirit. He is the man himself, by regeneration become a son at once of man and God. Generation, degeneration, regeneration – in these three terms is comprised the whole process of the soul’s history.
27. This triumphant consummation of the soul’s course is thus celebrated in the Apocalypse. “I beheld,“ says the seer, “a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun having the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve starts.” This is the soul invested with the light of supreme knowledge attained through the experiences undergone in the long series of her past existences; standing on the moon as victor over materiality and firm in the faith of a full intuition – states denoted respectively by the dark and light portions of the moon; and superior evermore to the changes of mortal destiny, the stars which represent this being the jewels of her crown, each of them denoting one of the “twelve
labours” necessary to be endured by the soul on her path to her final perfectionment, and the spiritual gifts and graces acquired in the process.
28. Of the woman or soul thus exalted the offspring is a “man-child,” who is persecuted by the “serpent” of the lower world. It is a man-child for several reasons. First, because it represents the good deeds, and not intention or thoughts merely, but actual works and positive fruits of a soul overshadowed of the Divine Spirit, and fertilised by the Divine Love. In the origination of such deeds, the outer nature of man can have no part; they proceed wholly from the soul or woman. And they constitute a man-child because deeds imply an exercise of the masculine element of force. And they are necessary to salvation, not because they themselves can save, but because they indicate the redemption of the individuals who perform them. Faith and holy longing are feminine, and of themselves insufficient. They must be supplemented by works – which are masculine – in order to win acceptance in God’s sight. “For the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord.” And “the Lord” means and is the whole humanity of man and woman, as subsisting in the Divine Idea. Without the child, therefore, and this a man-child, the allegory would have been incomplete.
29. Now the good deeds thus engendered are the special aversion of the devil, or principle of evil, since, more than all else, they endanger his kingdom. Hence he is represented as seeking to annihilate both them and the soul which has given them birth. But though the soul must yet remain in the world to endure trial and persecution until the time come for God to end her probation and call her to her final joy with Himself, it is not so with her offspring; but this is forthwith caught up to God and His throne.
For, the good deed once wrought cannot be destroyed; but God accepts and preserves it, and the devil has no power over it. Wherefore the latter, finding it useless to pursue the man-child, redoubles his efforts against the soul, and pours forth a flood of temptations, in order, if possible, to sweep her from God’s sight. She, however, though still in the “wilderness” of the flesh, is divinely sustained and delivered. The rest of her seed, the good deeds she continues to bring forth, are still the subject of persecution, until the dragon is finally overcome through what mystically is called the Blood of the Lamb, which is the pure doctrine and life whereby the elect are made sons of God and heirs of eternal life.
31. Side by side with this epitome of the history of the pure and faithful soul, the allegory traces that of the perverse soul, under the type of an abandoned woman who sits upon the “seven hills” of the “seven deadly sins,” and allies herself in wickedness with the “kings of the earth.” That is, who yields wholly to the promptings of the lower nature, and accepts in all its grossness and cruelty a civilisation merely materialistic, in which the body is made all, and the spirit and every divine principle are set at nought.
32. The completeness of the parable in Genesis appears yet more distinctly when we compare the curse pronounced on Adam with man’s actual condition in material respects. The sentence in its proper integrity runs thus: – “And unto Adam God said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife when beguiled of the devil, and hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat, instead of the nobler fruit of the tree which grows spontaneously, the grosser herb of the field which requires laborious cultivation. For, in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” This is, God said to the bodily nature of man: “Because thou hast yielded to the solicitations of thy mate, the soul, when turning from God, she inclined to Matter, and from being spiritual became sensual, thou must lead a hard and painful life, occupied by ignoble cares, and return by death to the lower elements to perish. Thy mate, meanwhile, though also liable to perish, shall still have long endurance, but henceforth – until finally purified and redeemed – shall bring forth her works, as the slave of
the body, in great trouble and compunction for her fallen and degraded condition.”
33. All the mistakes made in Biblical interpretation come of referring statements of which the intention is spiritual and mystical, implying principles or states, to times, persons, or places. But, though these are never the essential element in any such statement, it is, nevertheless true that the Bible parables are either based upon certain special historic facts or are stated in terms derived from actual occurrences; just as a hieroglyphical record is expressed in symbols drawn from the animal world, and yet has no reference to that world; so that the spiritual significations implied are not without a correspondence of some sort on the natural plane.
34. Now, the special historical fact upon the lines of which the parable of the Fall is constructed, is one which – already implied in the account just given of the soul individual of man – is to be sought in the history of the soul collective of man – in the history, that is, of the Church, an account of the Fall in relation to which will occupy the rest of this lecture. Sacerdotalism has always claimed for the Church the distinction of being the mystic woman through whose exaltation redemption occurs. But it has never recognised the Church as also the woman through whose fall comes the need of redemption. This reproach the priest has bestowed in a quarter in which originally there was no idea of bestowing it, and where it by no means belongs, namely, the feminine moiety of the human race. Yet, notwithstanding this assumption of sacerdotalism, it is to the fall of the Church from the standard attained in the Edenic period, that, in one of its aspects, the parable refers.
35. Even so, however, the interpretation is not to be restricted to any single or special instance. It is only as a type of all Churches that the first or best Church is employed, precisely as the soul of the first or best man may be employed as a type of all souls. And any less general application would deprive the parable of its due place as an eternal and universal verity, and reduce it to the level of the merely historical and local.
36. Nor, in likening all Churches one to another in respect of their fall, is it intended to assimilate them in respect of the height from which they have fallen. All that is meant is, that, whatever the level of spiritual perfection attained by any mystic community or Church in the full flush of its enthusiasm and purity, there is always a fall from such level, and the fall is due to one and the self-same cause, namely, that which is implied in the parable of Eden, and of which account has just been given in relation to the soul as individual. For of the soul’s fall, whether in one or in many, the cause is always the same – the inclination to Matter.
rise also is the same, both in cause and in method. And it is of this – the
rise, that is, of the earliest known – perhaps the original –
Substance, credits Matter with a power of evolution while denying to it the properties through which alone evolution can occur, namely, inhering life and consciousness. This science, moreover, contemplates as possible the development of that which, being infinite and eternal, is necessarily all-perfection perpetuity, namely, the substance of existence. For Mysticism, on the contrary, existence – or, more properly Being – and consciousness are terms synonymous and interchangeable; and all Substance, under whatever mode manifested, continues still to be, in some mode, consciousness. And inasmuch as Substance itself is incapable of development, in the sense of becoming more or better than it originally is, development is not of the qualities of substance, but of the manifestation of those qualities in individuated portions of it, a process which – consisting in the unfoldment of qualities already subsisting, but latent – may fairly be designated evolution.
38. The man spiritual, like the man physical – the Church, like the world, then, represents a development from rudimentary being, occurring in virtue of the nature of the substance of which that being represents the projection; and the only difference between them is of degree or stage of development. And whereas the lowest or material plane is that wherein the process commences, the highest and last to be attained is the celestial. According to the degree in which he attains this, man attains the divine and is at one with God, having, in virtue of the knowledge thus derived, power “over things in heaven and things on earth,” – power, that is, over both regions, the spiritual and the material, of his own nature, and being altogether superior to the seductions of the illusory astral which lies between.
39. This celestial sphere was attained by the Edenic
Church in a
degree never reached by any other. Wherefore, since that alone is such a Church
in which it is attained, no Church which has subsequently existed has been truly
Edenic; but all have been Churches of the Fall. In
this fall, man receded from the celestial back towards his original level, the terrestrial, becoming once more subject to Matter, and losing the power over his body. There was no fall on the part of the individuals themselves who had risen. These quitted the earth and passed on to higher conditions of being. The Fall came through the failure of the succeeding generations, to attain the level reached by their predecessors. Failing to attain, like them, the celestial, man remained – where, with a few individual exceptions, he has ever since been – in the astral and material.
40. Let us attempt a description of that inmost sphere – the abode of the man celestial – which is at once the source of doctrine and the sphere wherein – as representative of the soul and intuition – the woman especially presides. It is a memory that we are about to recall, (1) a memory recovered of an age not absolutely but relatively “golden,” to revisit which in thought, is to revert to a period in the world’s youth, when, as yet unpoisoned by all-pervading sin and disease, the conditions of life were so exquisite in their purity and harmony, as to make existence itself a positive, intense delight. And while in the act of recovering that memory, and enjoying again that remote past, the mind is able to look forward as well as backward, and to behold the whole subsequent period of the world’s course – that which is called the historical period – as but a season – brief compared with that which preceded it – of sickness
and suffering which the race, by its own fault, has brought upon itself; but from which, it seems, rescue is not impossible, can humanity but furnish the love needful for the task of saving itself. For in those hyper-lucid moments it is made to appear as a self-evident truth, that just as it has been possible for us in the past to live healthily and happily, it will be possible for us to do so in the future. For Utopia is Utopia only for those who insist that it shall for ever be Utopia and unrealised. There is no force in the universe save will-force; and all that life needs for life, is possible to will. And, continuing to operate over an indefinite period, even a finite will becomes infinite. Wherefore man has but to will long enough, to make the world as he would have it. But to will is not merely to wish, but to work toward the desired end. It is for the woman in us to wish, and therein to prompt. She is the inspirer. But the man in us must work. He is the executor. Apart, powerless; together, they can move the world. He and She, Will and Love, Spirit and Substance, operating in the celestial, created the world; and assuredly they can redeem it.
41. That which we propose to describe – so far as the attempt to reconstruct it has been successful – is the innermost sphere, not, indeed, of the mystic community of Eden itself, but of one of those ancient successors of and approximations to it, which, as Colleges of the Sacred Mysteries, were the true heirs of Eden and which, so recently even as by Plato, were described as places wherein were repaired the effects of the Fall, and to quit which for the outer world was to quit once more the garden for the wilderness. Once accessible to all, so completely now has the true character of these institutions fallen from remembrance, that even scholars write them down as instruments of imposture and
oppression, and devoid of special knowledge or faculty. Wherefore to recover them is to re-create them; – no small task, seeing that the way to them, even in thought, is barred and banned by all the priesthoods, so that only by facing and piercing the formidable phalanx of sacerdotalism itself, can the forbidden ground of those lost paradises be even approached.
42. For – as recorded in classic legend – the golden fruit of a perfect doctrine and life, produced on the union of Zeus and Hera – the man and woman of the substantial humanity – is guarded not only by the dragon of man’s own lower nature, but also by the “daughters of the sunset” – the world’s materialised sacerdotalisms. And these, together with dragon and sword of flame, keep watch and ward, lest any, re-entering the closed garden, may find, and pluck, and eat, and know, and, knowing, have life in himself, needing no assistance of priest. And so fierce and vigilant is the watch kept, that only a Heracles – or man already half divine – can succeed in piercing or evading the formidable phalanx.
43. Let us suppose this done, and priestly lines safely passed and left behind. Traversing the broad belt which divides these lines from the wished-for centre, the seeker descries at length a Mount, towards the summit of which the sky appears to dip, so that by the meeting of the two a junction is formed between the earth and heaven. Thus does it appear to the interior vision, with which, to be a successful follower of such quest, the seeker must be endowed. That which he finds on reaching the Mount, is a community of beings, of both sexes, to the ordinary eyes human, but to the interior divine also. And the life they lead – though outwardly quiet, grave, uneventful, and, as some would deem it, even ascetic – in reality throbs with
intensest vitality, abounds in enterprise the most lofty, and brims with keenest satisfaction. For, of this community the members are, of all mankind, the profoundest of intelligence, widest of culture, ripest of experience, tenderest of heart, purest of soul, maturest of spirit. They are persons who – using life without abusing it, and having no perverse will to the outer – have learnt all that the body has to teach, and who, rising above earth by the steadfast subordination of their lower, and exaltation of their higher nature, have at length – to use their own most ancient and significant phrase – crucified in themselves the flesh, and thereby made of their bodies instruments, instead of masters, for their souls, and means of expression, instead of sources of limitation, for their spirits. Thus rising above the earth, they have drawn down heaven to meet them; and, like the resolving rain-cloud of tropic seas, formed a pillar of communication between the spheres upper and nether.
44. An Order, or School, to these compose, whereof the initiates, while honoring the man as the heir of all things – if only he be lawfully begotten and be a true child of the Spirit – specially champion the woman, by exalting her within themselves to share supremacy with the man, making themselves at once man and woman. For together with the intellect, they cherish also the intuition, together with the head, the heart, and combining in all things love with will, make it their one object to enable the substance of their humanity to attain in them the full manifestation of its qualities. Practicers as well as preachers of the doctrine of creation by development, and – withheld by no prepossession or prejudice – fearless followers of thought to its extremest spheres in every direction, they are the earth’s sole genuine evolutionists and free-thinkers; and to them alone, and those who, affiliated to them, know and follow
their method, it is given, while in the body, to live the life of the Spirit; to reach their intellectual manhood; to complete the system of their thought, and find certitude of truth even the highest; to attain the supreme common sense of all the spheres and modes of being in which substance is wont to be manifested; and, in a word, to be taught of the informing Spirit Itself of the universal humanity, all the mysteries of that Kingdom which, being within, is the counterpart of and sole key to that which is without.
45. Of all who attain eminence in this School – and this have been, and haply shall yet again be, many – the motive is one, and the history one. For the motive is the love of perfection, for the sake, not of self only, but of perfection. And this is a goal which, pursued as these pursue it, continues ever to rise, and draws the pursuer after it. And the history is that of the soul. For, as the soul is one, so also is her history one.
46. From this Order, wherever established, have proceeded, as from a central sun, all the light and heat of knowledge and goodness which, distributed through faithful priesthoods, have ministered towards the world’s redemption from utter ignorance and barbarism to such degree of humanity as it has reached. From the germs of truth and beauty, in doctrine and conduct, idea and practice, thus originated, and transferred to various soils, has sprung all that the world has of true philosophy, morality, art, science, civilisation, religion. And in so far as the products have been lacking in excellence, the fault has been due, not to the original seed, but to the soil and to the husbandmen.
47. How stubborn that soil, and how inefficient or faithless those husbandmen, may be inferred from the fact that rarely,
since history began, has the Order found in the smallest degree the recognition and gratitude its due. But, on the contrary, whenever, in a period of degradation so extreme that humanity itself seemed in its death-throe, and instead of men the earth bore monsters – one of its members had quitted his loved seclusion and, descending from his own celestial “Mount” into the world below, has sought by conduct and precept to afford an example of what humanity has in it to be – he has by the world he sought to rescue been subjected to persecution and affront, and in the official guardians of the doctrine he represented and would have regenerated, has found his bitterest foes.
48. Long vanished from human view, the Order has been replaced by
semblances, mechanical merely and void of vitality; and for lack both of the
knowledge and of the materials, incompetent to build up a single specimen of
humanity after its perfected pattern. Nevertheless the true order still
survives, though dwindled in numbers and no longer having
or appliance due; but as “a people scattered and peeled,” lost tribes of a
49. Of all earthly Orders, this, by reason of its antiquity, its universality, its objects, and its achievements, is incomparably
the most notable, seeing that from it have proceeded all the world’s true sages, saints, seers, prophets, redeemers, and Christs; and through it all divine revelation. And its doctrine is that one true doctrine of existence, and therein of religion, which – always in the world – is now for the first time in its history published to the world in language comprehensible by the world – having, it is believed, been recovered in the way it was originally received.
50. It remains to speak of the cause and manner of the fall from a level so lofty, from a rule so beneficent. The truth is, that the world fell only because the Church fell. And the Church, or collective soul of Humanity, fell, as does the individual soul, by looking less and less upward to God, and more and more downward to Matter. Cataclysmal as the result may appear when viewed in the totality of its effects and from a distance of time, the declension was very gradual, and extended over many generations. It may thus be compared to a diminution of agricultural produce, such as occurs through the gradual impoverishment of the soil. The spiritual possibilities of the race had, as it were, exhausted themselves. Or it may be likened to a recession of the tides of the sea, and to the seasons of the year. For, until finally united to God by what, mystically, is called the Divine Marriage, man is subject to many fluctuations and alternations in respect of his spiritual condition. And instead of the wave of his spiritual life remaining always at high water, it falls back to rise in another tide – a tide, it may be, as in this case, to culminate only after another creative “week” of man’s spiritual
formation, of which every “day” should be a “thousand years.” In the sense and manner ordinarily supposed, mankind never fell. Its fall was gradual as its rise. Under the ripening influence of a vast wave of spiritual light and heat – to the production of which man himself had contributed his necessary quota, by voluntary co-operation with the Divine Spirit working within him – he attained the first great summer of his perfection, in the time and manner indicated in the parable of Eden and the legends of the Golden Age. Upon the subsidence of this wave – a subsidence due to himself – he fell from this summer back into the spiritual autumn and winter in which he has remained buried more or less deeply ever since. And now he is at the lowest depth compatible with any retention at all of existence. Another step in the same direction means for Humanity – in the mystical and true sense, and that is in every high sense – total extinction.
51. As with the Individual, so with the Race. The path of ascent from rudimentary being, is also the path of descent when, through a perverse will to the outer, descent occurs. Man rose into man, and attained the full image of God, through the culture of the woman within him. Representing his soul and intuition of God, she was his initiator into the knowledge of Divine things. And led by the clear perceptions which are her special gift when duly tended and honored, he learnt to shun idolatry – which is the preference for the Form over the Substance – and bloodshed (whether for soul or body), and with these whatever might serve to obscure or distort his conceptions of the Divine Character. Thus exalting the woman on the spiritual and intellectual planes of her manifestation in humanity, he exalted her also on the planes social and political; and instead of seeing in her – as do the fallen philosophies and
sacerdotalisms of all subsequent ages
– a thing maimed and defective, and – however fair – a mistake and a blunder of
Nature, to be classed with criminals, idiots, and children, and yet to be held
responsible for all the evils of existence – he regarded her as a later and
higher development upon himself, and as, of the two, the nearer to God. And
richly did she repay him for the preference, so long as it was accorded to her.
For through her he attained
52. At once the cause and consequence of the Fall, the manifestation of this suppression is always threefold. The loss of the intuition means idolatry, and idolatry means murder. Each of these is a condition of the other. Losing his intuition of Spirit, man becomes Materialist, and instead of the spiritual idea, which alone is real, worships the visible symbol. That is, he ignores the soul and exalts the body of things. Exalting the body, he sacrifices all to the body,
and sheds, for its gratification, innocent blood. Thus he is murderer as well as idolater. The woman in him falling, he becomes “Cain,” a cultivator of “the fruits of the ground” only, or lower nature, whence proceeds all evil. In other words, for a doctrine of love he substitutes a doctrine of selfishness. For this is the sin of which bloodshed is the symbol and outcome.
53. Since these are the three steps of his descent, to reverse his practice in respect of them – in the Spirit as well as in the Letter – will be to reverse the Fall, and to remount once more to the celestial. Already has the movement begun in each regard. The position of woman on the lower planes is being rapidly revolutionised, and soon will be so also on the higher. Little, however, do most of those who are working to that end know what it means, and little will the end coincide with their anticipations. For many who in our day are pretending to “exalt the woman” are doing so by means subversive of her. And many even of the women who are seeking to exalt themselves, are doing so by the repression, rather than by the promotion, of their womanhood; and this, by reason, not of their doing man’s work but of their doing it in man’s evil fashion, leaving out the woman. Nevertheless, the woman shall be exalted. God will carry her to His throne, and “will make the wrath of man to praise Him.” The outcry, surely gathering volume and strength, against the slaughter and torture of our animal brethren, whether for use or for pleasure, is another token of entrance upon the upward path. It is not at the hands of those who kill or eat them that the animals will be permitted to accept their salvation from the torturer. They who would redeem others must first make sacrifice in themselves. When this truth is understood, the redemption of the animals will be at hand. And in respect of
idolatry the prospect is even yet brighter. For the “Gospel of Interpretation” has come, and the “letter which killeth” is henceforth shorn of its strength.
54. Do we speak of signs? What sign more astounding could have been imagined than the modern phenomenon known as “Spiritualism”? Herein man has already taken one whole step upward towards the celestial. For in “Spiritualism” he has quitted the exclusively material, and has actually entered the astral. Short of the celestial now he cannot stop. The very profundity of his dissatisfaction with his experiences of the astral, will compel him onwards. To this every “Spiritualist” will testify. Backward man dare not turn, to the merely material. For he has beheld in vivisection the abyss which confronts him there, and in healthy horror has recoiled from the bottomless pit therein disclosed, of the possibilities of his own lower nature. In vivisection the human is abandoned for the infernal.
55. The cry, then, is onward, upward, inward to the celestial. And happy will
they be who first are uplifted thither, for they will surely draw all men up
after them. Reversing the Fall and the Curse of Eve, they will lead Man to a new
Golden Age, a new Sabbath of Perfection, and the glories of the New Jerusalem,
that true City of
Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
Jam nova progenies coelo dimittitur alto. (Virgil, Eclog. IV.)
Thus, too, will Intuition and Intellect, as a new Esther and Mordecai, once more gain favour with the
redeeming from oppression the true
(176:1) This lecture was written by Edward Maitland, with the exception of the italicised portion of paragraph 3, which is adapted from an Illumination of Anna Kingsford, as also is the whole of Part II., and was delivered by him on Monday the 4th July, 1881 (Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 17, 33).
(177:1) See C.W.S., part ii., No. iii., p. 220.
(182:1) Much and serious misconception has arisen from the use of the same term to denote both the whole humanity and the masculine half of humanity. The confusion is identical with that which arises from the use of the word Earth to denote both the entire globe of earth and water, and the solid portion only of the globe. As in its former sense earth and water are equally Earth, the one being as earth masculine, and the other as earth feminine, so man and woman are equally Man, the one being man masculine, and the other man feminine. For her as well as for him, the exterior personality is what mystically is called the “man,” and the interior being is the “woman.”
(198:1) The account of the Order or Community referred to in paragraphs 40-49 was elaborated by Edward Maitland out of his own inmost consciousness, his feeling all the while being that he was recalling a recollection of his own appertaining to some long-past existence in which he had himself been a member of such an Order (Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 65, 66, and see p. 210).