Yes, you heard it straight from the the Rove’s mouth, ” Egyptains More Western Because They Descended From Ramses & Cleopatra”
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Yes, you heard it straight from the the Rove’s mouth, ” Egyptains More Western Because They Descended From Ramses & Cleopatra”
The intellect of the Atheist would find matter everywhere; but no Causing and Providing Mind: his moral sense would find no Equitable Will, no Beauty of Moral Excellence, no Conscience enacting justice into the unchanging law of right, no spiritual Order or spiritual Providence, but only material Fate and Chance. His affections would find only finite things to love; and to them the dead who were loved and who died yesterday, are like the rainbow that yesterday evening lived a moment and then passed away. His soul, flying through the vast Inane, and feeling the darkness with its wings, seeking the Soul of all, which at once is Reason, Conscience, and the Heart of all that is, would find no God, but a Universe all disorder; no Infinite, no Reason, no Conscience, no Heart, no Soul of things; nothing to reverence, to esteem, to love, to worship, to trust in; but only an Ugly Force, alien and foreign to us, that strikes down those we love, and makes us mere worms on the hot sand of the world. No voice would speak from the Earth to comfort him. It is a cruel mother, that great Earth, that devours her young,–a Force and nothing more. Out of the sky would smile no kind Providence, in all its thousand starry eyes; and in storms a malignant violence, with its lightning-sword, would stab into the darkness, seeking for men to murder.
No man ever was or ever can be content with that. The evidence of .God has been ploughed into Nature so deeply, and so deeply woven into the texture of the human soul, that Atheism has never become a faith, though it has sometimes assumed the shape of theory. Religion is natural to man. Instinctively he turns to God and reverences and relies on Him. In the Mathematics of the Heavens, written in gorgeous diagrams of fire, he sees law, order, beauty, harmony without end: in the ethics of the little nations that inhabit the ant-hills he sees the same; in all Nature, animate and inanimate, he sees the evidences of a Design, a Will, an Intelligence, and a God,–of a God beneficent and loving as well as wise, and merciful and indulgent as well as powerful.
To man, surrounded by the material Universe, and conscious of the influence that his material environments exercised upon his fortunes and his present destiny;–to man, ever confronted with the splendors of the starry heavens, the regular march of the
seasons, the phenomena of sunrise and moonrise, and all the evidences of intelligence and design that everywhere pressed upon and overwhelmed him, all imaginable questions as to the nature and cause of these phenomena constantly recurred, demanding to be solved, and refusing to be sent away unanswered. And still, after the lapse of ages, press upon the human mind and demand solution, the same great questions–perhaps still demanding it in vain.
Advancing to the period when man had ceased to look upon the separate parts and individual forces of the Universe as gods,–when he had come to look upon it as a whole, this question, among the earliest, occurred to him, and insisted on being answered: “Is this material Universe self-existent, or was it created? Is it eternal, or did it originate?”
And then in succession came crowding on the human mind these other questions:
“Is this material Universe a mere aggregate of fortuitous combinations of matter, or is it the result and work of intelligence, acting upon a plan?
“If there be such an Intelligence, what and where is it? Is the material Universe itself an Intelligent being? Is it like man, a body and a soul? Does Nature act upon itself, or is there a Cause beyond it that acts upon it?
“If there is a personal God, separate from the material Universe, that created all things, Himself uncreated, is He corporeal or incorporeal, material or spiritual, the soul of the Universe or wholly apart from it? and if He be Spirit, what then is spirit?
“Was that Supreme Deity active or quiescent before the creation; and if quiescent during a previous eternity, what necessity of His nature moved Him at last to create a world; or was it a mere whim that had no motive?
which represented the Deity coming forth out of the incomprehensible mystery of His nature, and revealing Himself at those critical epochs which either in the physical or moral world seemed to mark a new commencement of prosperity and order. Combating the power of Evil in the various departments of Nature, and in successive periods of time, the Divinity, though varying in form, is ever in reality the same, whether seen in useful agricultural or social inventions, in traditional victories over rival creeds, or in physical changes faintly discovered through tradition, or suggested by cosmogonical theory. As Rama, the Epic hero armed with sword, club, and arrows, the prototype of Hercules and Mithras, he wrestles like the Hebrew Patriarch with the Powers of Darkness; as Chrishna-Govinda, the Divine Shepherd, he is the Messenger of Peace, overmastering the world by music and love. Under the human form he never ceases to be the Supreme Being. “The foolish” (he says, in Bhagavad Ghita), “unacquainted with my Supreme Nature, despise me in this human form, while men of great minds, enlightened by the Divine principle within them, acknowledge me as incorruptible and before all things, and serve me with undivided hearts.” “I am not recognized by all,” he says again, “because concealed by the supernatural power which is in me; yet to me are known all things past, present, and to come; I existed before Vaivaswata and Menou. I am the Most High God, the Creator of the World, the Eternal Poorooscha (Man-World or Genius of the World). And although in my own nature I am exempt from liability to birth or death, and am Lord of all created things, yet as often as in the world virtue is enfeebled, and vice and injustice prevail, so often do I become manifest and am revealed from age to age, to save the just, to destroy the guilty, and to reassure the faltering steps of virtue. He who acknowledgeth me as even so, doth not on quitting this mortal frame enter into another, for he entereth into me; and many who have trusted in me have already entered into me, being purified by the power of wisdom. I help those who walk in my path, even as they serve me.”
Brahma, the creating agent, sacrificed himself, when, by descending into material forms, he became incorporated with his work; and his mythological history was interwoven with that of the Universe. Thus, although spiritually allied to the Supreme, and Lord of all creatures (Prajapati), he shared the imperfection and
corruption of an inferior nature, and, steeped in manifold and perishable forms, might be said, like the Greek Uranus, to be mutilated and fallen. He thus combined two characters, formless form, immortal and mortal, being and non-being, motion and rest. As Incarnate Intelligence, or THE WORD, he communicated to man what had been revealed to himself by the Eternal, since he is creation’s Soul as well as Body, within which the Divine Word is written in those living letters which it is the prerogative of the self-conscious spirit to interpret.
The fundamental principles of the religion of the Hindi’s consisted in the belief in the existence of One Being only, of the immortality of the soul, and of a future state of rewards and punishments. Their precepts of morality inculcate the practice of virtue as necessary for procuring happiness even in this transient life; and their religious doctrines make their felicity in a future state to depend upon it.
Besides their doctrine of the transmigration of souls, their dogmas may be epitomized under the following heads: 1st. The existence of one God, from Whom all things proceed, and to Whom all must return. To him they constantly apply these expressions–The Universal and Eternal Essence; that which has ever been and will ever continue; that which vivifies and pervades all things; He who is everywhere present, and causes the celestial bodies to revolve in the course He has prescribed to them. 2d. A tripartite division of the Good Principle, for the purposes of Creation, Preservation, and Renovation by change and death. 3d. The necessary existence of an Evil Principle, occupied in counteracting the benevolent purposes of the first, in their execution by the Devata or Subordinate Genii, to whom is entrusted the control over the various operations of nature.
GOD is the author of everything that existeth; the Eternal, the Supreme, the Living, and Awful Being; from Whom nothing in the Universe is hidden. Make of Him no idols and visible images; but rather worship Him in the deep solitudes of sequestered forests; for He is invisible, and fills the Universe as its soul, and liveth not in any Temple!
Light and Darkness are the World’s Eternal ways. God is the principle of everything that exists, and the Father of all Beings. He is eternal, immovable, and Self-Existent. There are no bounds to His power. At one glance He sees the Past, the Present, and the Future; and the procession of the builders of the Pyramids, with us and our remotest Descendants, is now passing before Him. He reads our thoughts before they are known to ourselves. He rules the movements of the Universe, and all events and revolutions are the creatures of His will. For He is the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence.
In the beginning Man had the WORD, and that WORD was from God: and out of the living power which, in and by that WORD, was communicated to man, came the LIGHT of his existence. Let no man speak the WORD, for by it THE FATHER made light and darkness, the world and living creatures!
The Chaldean upon his plains worshipped me, and the sea-loving Phœnician. They builded me temples and towers, and burned sacrifices to me upon a thousand altars. Light was divine to them, and they thought me a God. But I am nothing–nothing; and LIGHT is the creature of the unseen GOD that taught the true religion to the Ancient Patriarchs: AWFUL, MYSTERIOUS, THE ABSOLUTE.
Man was created pure; and God gave him TRUTH, as He gave him LIGHT. He has lost the truth and found error. He has wandered far into darkness; and round him Sin and Shame hover evermore. The Soul that is impure, and sinful, and defiled with earthly stains, cannot again unite with God, until, by long trials and many purifications, it is finally delivered from the old calamity; and Light overcomes Darkness and dethrones it, in the Soul.
God is the First; indestructible, eternal, UNCREATED, INDIVISIBLE. Wisdom, Justice, Truth, and Mercy, with Harmony and Love, are of His essence, and Eternity and Infinitude of Extension. He is silent, and consents with MIND, and is known to Souls through MIND alone. In Him were all things originally contained, and from Him all things were evolved. For out of His Divine SILENCE and REST, after an infinitude of time, was unfolded the WORD, or the Divine POWER; and then in turn the Mighty, ever-acting, measureless INTELLECT; and from the WORD were evolved the myriads of suns and systems that make the Universe; and fire, and light, and the electric HARMONY, which is the harmony of spheres and numbers: and from the INTELLECT all Souls and intellects of men.
In the Beginning, the Universe was but ONE SOUL. HE was THE ALL, alone with TIME and SPACE, and Infinite as they.
—— HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: “I Create Worlds:” and lo! the Universe, and the laws of harmony and motion that rule it. the expression of a thought of God; and bird and beast, and every living thing but Man: and light and air, and the mysterious cur-rents, and the dominion of mysterious numbers!
—— HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: “I Create Man, whose Soul shall be my image, and he shall rule.” And lo! Man, with senses, instinct, and a reasoning mind!
—— And yet not MAN! but an animal that breathed, and saw, and thought: until an immaterial spark from God’s own
[paragraph continues] Infinite Being penetrated the brain, and became the Soul: and lo, MAN THE IMMORTAL! Thus, threefold, fruit of God’s thought, is Man; that sees and hears and feels; that thinks and reasons; that loves and is in harmony with the Universe.
Before the world grew old, the primitive Truth faded out from men’s Souls. Then man asked himself, “What am I? and how and whence am I? and whither do I go?” And the Soul, looking inward upon itself, strove to learn whether that “I” were mere matter; its thought and reason and its passions and affections mere results of material combination; or a material Being enveloping an immaterial Spirit: . . and further it strove, by self-examination, to learn whether that Spirit were an individual essence, with a separate immortal existence, or an infinitesimal portion of a Great First Principle, inter-penetrating the Universe and the infinitude of space, and undulating like light and heat: . . and so they wandered further amid the mazes of error; and imagined vain philosophies; wallowing in the sloughs of materialism and sensualism, of beating their wings vainly in the vacuum of abstractions and idealities.
And in this sense, as presiding over life and death, Dionusos is in the highest sense the LIBERATOR: since, like Osiris, he frees the soul, and guides it in its migrations beyond the grave, preserving it from the risk of again falling under the slavery of matter or of some inferior animal form, the purgatory of Metempsychosis; and exalting and perfecting its nature through the purifying discipline of his Mysteries. “The great consummation of all philosophy,” said Socrates, professedly quoting from traditional and mystic sources, “is Death: He who pursues philosophy aright, is studying how to die.”
All soul is part of the Universal Soul, whose totality is Dionusos; and it is therefore he who, as Spirit of Spirits, leads back the vagrant spirit to its home, and accompanies it through the purifying processes, both real and symbolical, of its earthly transit. He is therefore emphatically the Mystes or Hierophant, the great Spiritual Mediator of Greek religion.
The human soul is itself δαιμονιος a God within the mind, capable through its own power of rivalling the canonization of the Hero, of making itself immortal by the practice of the good, and the contemplation of the beautiful and true. The removal to the Happy Islands could only be understood mythically; everything earthly must die; Man, like Œdipus, is wounded from his birth, his real elysium can exist only beyond the grave. Dionusos died and descended to the shades. His passion was the great Secret of the Mysteries; as Death is the Grand Mystery of existence. His death, typical of Nature’s Death, or of her periodical decay and restoration, was one of the many symbols of the palingenesia or second birth of man.
Man descended from the elemental Forces or Titans [Elohim], who fed on the body of the Pantheistic Deity creating the Universe by self-sacrifice, commemorates in sacramental observance this mysterious passion; and while partaking of the raw flesh of the victim, seems to be invigorated by a fresh draught from the fountain of universal life, to receive a new pledge of regenerated existence. Death is the inseparable antecedent of life; the seed dies in order to produce the plant, and earth itself is rent asunder and dies at the birth of Dionusos. Hence the significancy of the phallus, or of its inoffensive substitute, the obelisk, rising as an emblem of resurrection by the tomb of buried Deity at Lerna or at Sais.
Dionusos-Orpheus descended to the Shades to recover the lost Virgin of the Zodiac, to bring back his mother to the sky as Thyone; or what has the same meaning, to consummate his eventful marriage with Persephone, thereby securing, like the nuptials of his father with Semele or Danaë, the perpetuity of Nature. His under-earth office is the depression of the year, the wintry aspect in the alternations of bull and serpent, whose united series makes up the continuity of Time, and in which, physically speaking, the stern and dark are ever the parents of the beautiful and bright.
It was this aspect, sombre for the moment, but bright by anticipation, which was contemplated in the Mysteries: the human sufferer was consoled by witnessing the severer trials of the Gods; and the vicissitudes of life and death, expressed by apposite symbols, such as the sacrifice or submersion of the Bull, the extinction and re-illumination of the torch, excited corresponding emotions of alternate grief and joy, that play of passion which was present at the origin of Nature, and which accompanies all her changes.
The greater Eleusiniæ were celebrated in the month Boëdromion, when the seed was buried in the ground, and when the year, verging to its decline, disposes the mind to serious reflection. The first days of the ceremonial were passed in sorrow and anxious silence, in fasting and expiatory or lustral offices. On a sudden, the scene was changed: sorrow and lamentation were discarded, the glad name of Iacchus passed from mouth to mouth, the image of the God, crowned with myrtle and bearing a lighted torch, was borne in joyful procession from the Ceramicus to Eleusis, where, during the ensuing night, the initiation was completed by an imposing revelation. The first scene was in the προναος, or outer court of the sacred enclosure, where amidst utter darkness, or while the meditating God, the star illuminating the Nocturnal Mystery, alone carried an unextinguished torch, the candidates were overawed with terrific sounds and noises, while they painfully groped their way, as in the gloomy cavern of the soul’s sublunar migration; a scene justly compared to the passage of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. For by the immutable law exemplified in the trials of Psyche, man must pass through the terrors of the under-world, before he can reach the height of Heaven. At length the gates of the adytum were thrown open, a supernatural light streamed from the illuminated statue
“Ego sum qui sum.” — An axiom of Hermetic Philosophy.
“We commenced research where modern conjecture closes its faithless wings. And with
us, those were the common elements of science which the sages of to-day disdain as
wild chimeras, or despair of as unfathomable mysteries.” — BULWER’S “ZANONI.” THERE exists somewhere in this wide world an old Book — so very old that our modern antiquarians might ponder over its pages an indefinite time, and still not quite agree as to the nature of the fabric upon which it is written. It is the only original copy now in existence. The most ancient Hebrew document on occult learning — the Siphra Dzeniouta — was compiled from it, and that at a time when the former was already considered in the light of a literary relic. One of its illustrations represents the Divine Essence emanating from ADAM like a luminous arc proceeding to form a circle; and then, having attained the highest point of its circumference, the ineffable Glory bends back again, and returns to earth, bringing a higher type of humanity in its vortex. As it approaches nearer and nearer to our planet, the Emanation becomes more and more shadowy, until upon touching the ground it is as black as night.
A conviction, founded upon seventy thousand years of experience, as they allege, has been entertained by hermetic philosophers of all periods that matter has in time become, through sin, more gross and dense than it was at man’s first formation; that, at the beginning, the
human body was of a half-ethereal nature; and that, before the fall, mankind communed freely with the now unseen universes. But since that time matter has become the formidable barrier between us and the world of spirits. The oldest esoteric traditions also teach that, before the mystic Adam, many races of human beings lived and died out, each giving place in its turn to another. Were these precedent types more perfect? Did any of them belong to the winged race of men mentioned by Plato in Phaedrus? It is the special province of science to solve the problem. The caves of France and the relics of the stone age afford a point at which to begin.
As the cycle proceeded, man’s eyes were more and more opened, until he came to know “good and evil” as well as the Elohim themselves. Having reached its summit, the cycle began to go downward. When the arc attained a certain point which brought it parallel with the fixed line of our terrestrial plane, the man was furnished by nature with “coats of skin,” and the Lord God “clothed them.”
This same belief in the pre-existence of a far more spiritual race than the one to which we now belong can be traced back to the earliest traditions of nearly every people. In the ancient Quiche manuscript, published by Brasseur de Bourbourg — the Popol Vuh — the first men are mentioned as a race that could reason and speak, whose sight was unlimited, and who knew all things at once. According to Philo Judaeus, the air is filled with an invisible host of spirits, some of whom are free from evil and immortal, and others are pernicious and mortal. “From the sons of EL we are descended, and sons of EL must we become again.”
And the unequivocal statement of the anonymous Gnostic who wrote The Gospel according to John, that “as many as received Him,” i.e., who followed practically the esoteric doctrine of Jesus, would “become the sons of God,” points to the same belief. (i., 12.) “Know ye not, ye are gods?” exclaimed the Master. Plato describes admirably in Phaedrus the state in which man once was, and what he will become again: before, and after the “loss of his wings”; when “he lived among the gods, a god himself in the airy world.”
From the remotest periods religious philosophies taught that the whole universe was filled with divine and spiritual beings of divers races. From one of these evolved, in the course of time, ADAM, the primitive man.
“Thou can’st not call that madness of which thou art proved to know nothing.” — TERTULLIAN: Apology.
“This is not a matter of to-day,Or yesterday, but hath been from all times;And none hath told us whence it came or how!” — SOPHOCLES.
“Belief in the supernatural is a fact natural, primitive, universal, and constant in the life and history of the human race. Unbelief in the supernatural begets materialism; materialism, sensuality; sensuality, social convulsions, amid whose storms man again learns to believe and pray.” — GUIEOT.
“If any one think these things incredible, let him keep his opinions to himself, and not contradict those who, by such events, are incited to the study of virtue.” — JOSEPHUS. FROM the Platonic and Pythagorean views of matter and force, we will now turn to the kabalistic philosophy of the origin of man, and compare it with the theory of natural selection enunciated by Darwin and Wallace. It may be that we shall find as much reason to credit the ancients with originality in this direction as in that which we have been considering. To our mind, no stronger proof of the theory of cyclical progression need be required than the comparative enlightenment of former ages and that of the Patristic Church, as regards the form of the earth, and the movements of the planetary system. Even were other evidence wanting, the ignorance of Augustine and Lactantius, misleading the whole of Christendom upon these questions until the period of Galileo, would mark the eclipses through which human knowledge passes from age to age.
The “coats of skin,” mentioned in the third chapter of Genesis as given to Adam and Eve, are explained by certain ancient philosophers to mean the fleshy bodies with which, in the progress of the cycles, the progenitors of the race became clothed. They maintained that the god-like physical form became grosser and grosser, until the bottom of what may be termed the last spiritual cycle was reached, and mankind entered upon the ascending arc of the first human cycle. Then began an uninterrupted series of cycles or yugas; the precise number of years of which each of them consisted remaining an inviolable mystery within the precincts of the sanctuaries and disclosed only to the initiates. As soon as humanity entered upon a new one, the stone age, with which the preceding cycle had closed, began to gradually merge into the following and next higher age. With each successive age, or epoch, men grew more refined, until
the acme of perfection possible in that particular cycle had been reached. Then the receding wave of time carried back with it the vestiges of human, social, and intellectual progress. Cycle succeeded cycle, by imperceptible transitions; highly-civilized flourishing nations, waxed in power, attained the climax of development, waned, and became extinct; and mankind, when the end of the lower cyclic arc was reached, was replunged into barbarism as at the start. Kingdoms have crumbled and nation succeeded nation from the beginning until our day, the races alternately mounting to the highest and descending to the lowest points of development. Draper observes that there is no reason to suppose that any one cycle applied to the whole human race. On the contrary, while man in one portion of the planet was in a condition of retrogression, in another he might be progressing in enlightenment and civilization.
How analogous this theory is to the law of planetary motion, which causes the individual orbs to rotate on their axes; the several systems to move around their respective suns; and the whole stellar host to follow a common path around a common centre! Life and death, light and darkness, day and night on the planet, as it turns about its axis and traverses the zodiacal circle representing the lesser and the greater cycles. Remember the Hermetic axiom: — “As above, so below; as in heaven, so on earth.
” Mr. Alfred R. Wallace argues with sound logic, that the development of man has been more marked in his mental organization than in his external form. Man, he conceives to differ from the animal, by being able to undergo great changes of conditions and of his entire environment, without very marked alterations in bodily form and structure. The changes of climate he meets with a corresponding alteration in his clothing, shelter, weapons, and implements of husbandry. His body may become less hairy, more erect, and of a different color and proportions; “the head and face is immediately connected with the organ of the mind, and as being the medium, expressing the most refined motions of his nature,” alone change with the development of his intellect. There was a time when “he had not yet acquired that wonderfully-developed brain, the organ of the mind, which now, even in his lowest examples, raises him far above the highest brutes, at a period when he had the form, but hardly the nature of man, when he neither possessed human speech nor sympathetic and moral feelings.” Further, Mr. Wallace says that “Man may have been — indeed, I believe must have been, once a homo-
THE entire history of Christian and pagan Gnosticism is shrouded in the deepest mystery and obscurity; for, while the Gnostics were undoubtedly prolific writers, little of their literature has survived. They brought down upon themselves the animosity of the early Christian Church, and when this institution reached its position of world power it destroyed all available records of the Gnostic cultus. The name Gnostic means wisdom, or knowledge, and is derived from the Greek Gnosis. The members of the order claimed to be familiar with the secret doctrines of early Christianity. They interpreted the Christian Mysteries according to pagan symbolism. Their secret information and philosophic tenets they concealed from the profane and taught to a small group only of especially initiated persons.
Simon Magus, the magician of New Testament fame, is often supposed to have been the founder of Gnosticism. If this be true, the sect was formed during the century after Christ and is probably the first of the many branches which have sprung from the main trunk of Christianity. Everything with which the enthusiasts of the early Christian Church might not agree they declared to be inspired by the Devil. That Simon Magus had mysterious and supernatural powers is conceded even by his enemies, but they maintained that these powers were lent to him by the infernal spirits and furies which they asserted were his ever present companions. Undoubtedly the most interesting legend concerning Simon is that which tells of his theosophic contests with the Apostle Peter while the two were promulgating their differing doctrines in Rome. According to the story that the Church Fathers have preserved, Simon was to prove his spiritual superiority by ascending to heaven in a chariot of fire. He was actually picked up and carried many feet into the air by invisible powers. When St. Peter saw this, he cried out in a loud voice, ordering the demons (spirits of the air) to release their hold upon the magician. The evil spirits, when so ordered by the great saint, were forced to obey. Simon fell a great distance and was killed, which decisively proved the superiority of the Christian powers. This story is undoubtedly manufactured out of whole cloth, as it is only one out of many accounts concerning his death, few of which agree. As more and more evidence is being amassed to the effect that St, Peter was never in Rome, its last possible vestige of authenticity is rapidly being dissipated.
That Simon was a philosopher there is no doubt, for wherever his exact words are preserved his synthetic and transcending thoughts are beautifully expressed. The principles of Gnosticism are well described in the following verbatim statement by him, supposed to have been preserved by Hippolytus: “To you, therefore, I say what I say, and write what I write. And the writing is this. Of the universal Æons [periods, planes, or cycles of creative and created life in substance and space, celestial creatures] there are two shoots, without beginning or end, springing from one Root, which is the power invisible, inapprehensible silence [Bythos]. Of these shoots one is manifested from above, which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind ordering all things, male, and the other, [is manifested] from below, the Great Thought, female, producing all things. Hence pairing with each other, they unite and manifest the Middle Distance, incomprehensible Air, without beginning or end. In this is the Father Who sustains all things, and nourishes those things which have a beginning and end.” (See Simon Magus, by G. R. S. Mead.) By this we are to understand that manifestation is the result of a positive and a negative principle, one acting upon the other, and it takes place in the middle plane, or point of equilibrium, called the pleroma. This pleroma is a peculiar substance produced out of the blending of the spiritual and material æons. Out of the pleroma was individualized the Demiurgus, the immortal mortal, to whom we are responsible for our physical existence and the suffering we must go through in connection with it. In the Gnostic system, three pairs of opposites, called Syzygies, emanated from the Eternal One. These, with Himself, make the total of seven. The six (three pairs) Æons (living, divine principles) were described by Simon in the Philosophumena in the following manner: The first two were Mind (Nous) and Thought (Epinoia). Then came Voice (Phone) and its opposite, Name (Onoma), and lastly, Reason (Logismos) and Reflection (Enthumesis). From these primordial six, united with the Eternal Flame, came forth the Æons (Angels) who formed the lower worlds through the direction of the Demiurgus. (See the works of H. P. Blavatsky.) How this first Gnosticism of Simon Magus and Menander, his disciple, was amplified, and frequently distorted, by later adherents to the cult must now be considered.
IT is especially fitting that a study of Hermetic symbolism should begin with a discussion of the symbols and attributes of the Saitic Isis. This is the Isis of Sais, famous for the inscription concerning her which appeared on the front of her temple in that city: “I, Isis, am all that has been, that is or shall be; no mortal Man hath ever me unveiled.”
Plutarch affirms that many ancient authors believed this goddess to be the daughter of Hermes; others held the opinion that she was the child of Prometheus. Both of these demigods were noted for their divine wisdom. It is not improbable that her kinship to them is merely allegorical. Plutarch translates the name Isis to mean wisdom. Godfrey Higgins, in his Anacalypsis, derives the name of Isis from the Hebrew ישע, Iso, and the Greek ζωω, to save. Some authorities, however, for example, Richard Payne Knight (as stated in his Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology), believe the word to be of Northern extraction, possibly Scandinavian or Gothic. In these languages the name is pronounced Isa, meaning ice, or water in its most passive, crystallized, negative state.
This Egyptian deity under many names appears as the principle of natural fecundity among nearly all the religions of the ancient world. She was known as the goddess with ten thousand appellations and was metamorphosed by Christianity into the Virgin Mary, for Isis, although she gave birth to all living things–chief among them the Sun–still remained a virgin, according to the legendary accounts.
Apuleius in the eleventh book of The Golden Ass ascribes to the goddess the following statement concerning her powers and attributes: “Behold, * *, I, moved by thy prayers, am present with thee; I, who am Nature, the parent of things, the queen of all the elements, the primordial progeny of ages, the supreme of Divinities, the sovereign of the spirits of the dead, the first of the celestials, and the uniform resemblance of Gods and Goddesses. I, who rule by my nod the luminous summits of the heavens, the salubrious breezes of the sea, and the deplorable silences of the realms beneath, and whose one divinity the whole orb of the earth venerates under a manifold form, by different rites and a variety of appellations. Hence the primogenial Phrygians call me Pessinuntica, the mother of the Gods, the Attic Aborigines, Cecropian Minerva; the floating Cyprians, Paphian Venus; the arrow-bearing Cretans, Diana Dictynna; the three-tongued Sicilians, Stygian Proserpine; and the Eleusinians, the ancient Goddess Ceres. Some also call me Juno, others Bellona, others Hecate, and others Rhamnusia. And those who are illuminated by the incipient rays of that divinity the Sun, when he rises, viz. the Ethiopians, the Arii, and the Egyptians skilled in ancient learning, worshipping me by ceremonies perfectly appropriate, call me by my true name, Queen Isis.”
Le Plongeon believes that the Egyptian myth of Isis had a historical basis among the Mayas of Central America, where this goddess was known as Queen Moo. In Prince Coh the same author finds a correspondence to Osiris, the brother-husband of Isis. Le Plongeon’s theory is that Mayan civilization was far more ancient than that of Egypt. After the death of Prince Coh, his widow, Queen Moo, fleeing to escape the wrath of his murderers, sought refuge among the Mayan colonies in Egypt, where she was accepted as their queen and was given the name of Isis. While Le Plongeon may be right, the possible historical queen sinks into insignificance when compared with the allegorical, symbolic World Virgin; and the fact that she appears among so many different races and peoples discredits the theory that she was a historical individual.
According to Sextus Empyricus, the Trojan war was fought over a statue of the moon goddess. For this lunar Helena, and not for a woman, the Greeks and Trojans struggled at the gates of Troy.
Several authors have attempted to prove that Isis, Osiris, Typhon, Nephthys, and Aroueris (Thoth, or Mercury) were grandchildren of the great Jewish patriarch Noah by his son Ham. But as the story of Noah and his ark is a cosmic allegory concerning the repopulation of planets at the beginning of each world period, this only makes it less likely that they were historical personages. According to Robert Fludd, the sun has three properties–life, light, and heat. These three vivify and vitalize the three worlds–spiritual, intellectual, and material. Therefore, it is said “from one light, three lights,” i. e. the first three Master Masons. In all probability, Osiris represents the third, or material, aspect of solar activity, which by its beneficent influences vitalizes and enlivens the flora and fauna of the earth. Osiris is not the sun, but the sun is symbolic of the vital principle of Nature, which the ancients knew as Osiris. His symbol, therefore, was an opened eye, in honor of the Great Eye of the universe, the sun. Opposed to the active, radiant principle of impregnating fire, hear, and motion was the passive, receptive principle of Nature.
IT is difficult for this age to estimate correctly the profound effect produced upon the religions, philosophies, and sciences of antiquity by the study of the planets, luminaries, and constellations. Not without adequate reason were the Magi of Persia called the Star Gazers. The Egyptians were honored with a special appellation because of their proficiency in computing the power and motion of the heavenly bodies and their effect upon the destinies of nations and individuals. Ruins of primitive astronomical observatories have been discovered in all parts of the world, although in many cases modern archæologists are unaware of the true purpose for which these structures were erected. While the telescope was unknown to ancient astronomers, they made many remarkable calculations with instruments cut from blocks of granite or pounded from sheets of brass and cop per. In India such instruments are still in use, and they posses a high degree of accuracy. In Jaipur, Rajputana, India, an observatory consisting largely of immense stone sundials is still in operation. The famous Chinese observatory on the wall of Peking consists of immense bronze instruments, including a telescope in the form of a hollow tube without lenses.
The pagans looked upon the stars as living things, capable of influencing the destinies of individuals, nations, and races. That the early Jewish patriarchs believed that the celestial bodies participated in the affairs of men is evident to any student of Biblical literature, as, for example, in the Book of Judges: “They fought from heaven, even the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” The Chaldeans, Phœnicians, Egyptians, Persians, Hindus, and Chinese all had zodiacs that were much alike in general character, and different authorities have credited each of these nations with being the cradle of astrology and astronomy. The Central and North American Indians also had an understanding of the zodiac, but the patterns and numbers of the signs differed in many details from those of the Eastern Hemisphere.
The word zodiac is derived from the Greek ζωδιακός (zodiakos), which means “a circle of animals,” or, as some believe, “little animals.” It is the name given by the old pagan astronomers to a band of fixed stars about sixteen degrees wide, apparently encircling the earth. Robert Hewitt Brown, 32°, states that the Greek word zodiakos comes from zo-on, meaning “an animal.” He adds: “This latter word is compounded directly from the primitive Egyptian radicals, zo, life, and on, a being.”
The Greeks, and later other peoples influenced by their culture, divided the band of the zodiac into twelve sections, each being sixteen degrees in width and thirty degrees in length. These divisions were called the Houses of the Zodiac. The sun during its annual pilgrimage passed through each of these in turn, Imaginary creatures were traced in the Star groups bounded by these rectangles; and because most of them were animal–or part animal–in form, they later became known as the Constellations, or Signs, of the Zodiac.
There is a popular theory concerning the origin of the zodiacal creatures to the effect that they were products of the imagination of shepherds, who, watching their flocks at night, occupied their minds by tracing the forms of animals and birds in the heavens. This theory is untenable, unless the “shepherds” be regarded as the shepherd priests of antiquity. It is unlikely that the zodiacal signs were derived from the star groups which they now represent. It is far more probable that the creatures assigned to the twelve houses are symbolic of the qualities and intensity of the sun’s power while it occupies different parts of the zodiacal belt.
On this subject Richard Payne Knight writes: “The emblematical meaning, which certain animals were employed to signify, was only some particular property generalized; and, therefore, might easily be invented or discovered by the natural operation of the mind: but the collections of stars, named after certain animals, have no resemblance whatever to those animals; which are therefore merely signs of convention adopted to distinguish certain portions of the heavens, which were probably consecrated to those particular personified attributes, which they respectively represented.” (The Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology.)
Some authorities are of the opinion that the zodiac was originally divided into ten (instead of twelve) houses, or “solar mansions.” In early times there were two separate standards–one solar and the other lunar–used for the measurement of the months, years, and seasons. The solar year was composed of ten months of thirty-six days each, and five days sacred to the gods. The lunar year consisted of thirteen months of twenty-eight days each, with one day left over. The solar zodiac at that time consisted often houses of thirty-six degrees each.