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Location: Northern California, United States

February 28, 2006

Myths To Live By by Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell's Ten Commandments for Reading Myth
1. Read myths with the eyes of wonder:
the myths transparent to their universal meaning,
their meaning transparent to its mysterious source.
2. Read myths in the present tense: Eternity is now.
3. Read myths in the first person plural: the Gods and Goddesses
of ancient mythology still live within you.
4. Any myth worth its salt exerts a powerful magnetism. Notice
the images and stories that you are drawn to and repelled by.
Investigate the field of associated images and stories.
5. Look for patterns; don't get lost in the details.
What is needed is not more specialized scholarship,
but more interdisciplinary vision. Make connections;
break old patterns of parochial thought.
6. Resacralize the secular:
even a dollar bill reveals the imprint of Eternity.
7. If God is everywhere, then myths can be generated anywhere,
anytime, by anything. Don't let your Romantic aversion to
science blind you to the Buddha in the computer chip.
8. Know your tribe! Myths never arise in a vacuum;
they are the connective tissue of the social body
which enjoys synergistic relations with
dreams (private myths) and rituals (the enactment of myth).
9. Expand your horizons! Any mythology worth remembering
will be global in scope. The earth is our home
and humankind is our family.
10. Read between the lines! Literalism kills;
Imagination quickens.
*
"The word zen itself is a Japanese mispronunciation of the Chinese word ch'an, which, in turn, is a CHinese mispronunciation of the Sanskrit dhyana, meaning 'contemplation, meditation.'"
*
"One of the most amazing images of love that I know is Persian--a mystical Persian representation of Satan as the most loyal lover of God. You will have heard the old legend of how, when God created the angels, he commanded them to pay worship to no one but himself; but then, creating man, he commanded them to bow in reverence to this most noble of his works, and Lucifer refused--because, we are told, of his pride. However, according to this Moslem reading of his case, it was rather because he loved and adored God so deeply and intensely that he could not bring himself to bow before anything else. And it was for that that he was flung into Hell, condemned to exist there forever, apart from his love."
*
“And although each may tend to identify himself mainly with his separate body and its frailties, it is possible also to regard one’s body as a mere vehicle of consciousness and to think, then, of consciousness as the one presence here made manifest through us all.”
*
I. The Impact of Science on Myth

I was sitting the other day at a lunch counter that I particularly enjoy, when a youngster about twelve years old, arriving with his school satchel, took the place at my left. Beside him came a younger little man, holding the hand of his mother, and those two took the next seats. All gave their orders, and, while waiting, the boy at my side said, turning his head slightly to the mother, "Jimmy wrote a paper today on the evolution of man, and Teacher said he was wrong, that Adam and Eve were our first parents."

My Lord! I thought. What a teacher!

The lady three seats away then said, "Well, Teacher was right. Our first parents were Adam and Eve."

What a mother for a twentieth-century child!

The youngster responded, "Yes, I know, but this was a scientific paper." And for that, I was ready to recommend him for a distinguished-service medal from the Smithsonian Institution.

The mother, however, came back with another. "Oh, those scientists!" she said angrily. "Those are only theories."

And he was up to that one too. "Yes, I know," was his cool and calm reply; "but they have been factualized: they found the bones."

The milk and the sandwiches came, and that was that.

So let us now reflect for a moment on the sanctified cosmic image that has been destroyed by the facts and findings of irrepressible young truth-seekers of this kind.

At the height of the Middle Ages, say in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, there were current two very different concepts of the earth. The more popular was of the earth as flat, like a dish surrounded by, and floating upon, a boundless cosmic sea, in which there were all kinds of monsters dangerous to man. This was an infinitely old notion, going back to the early Bronze Age. It appears in Sumerian cuneiform texts of about 2000 B.C.and is the image authorized in the Bible.

The more seriously considered medieval concept, however, was that of the ancient Greeks, according to whom the earth was not flat, but a solid stationary sphere in the center of a kind of Chinese box of seven transparent revolving spheres, in each of which there was a visible planet: the moon, Mercury, Venus, and the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, the same seven after which our days of the week are named. The sounding tones of these seven, moreover, made a music, the "music of the spheres," to which the notes of our diatonic scale correspond. There was also a metal associated with each: silver, mercury, copper, gold, iron, tin, and lead, in that order. And the soul descending from heaven to be born on earth picked up, as it came down, the qualities of those metals; so that our souls and bodies are compounds of the very elements of the universe and sing, so to say, the same song.

Music and the arts, according to this early view, were to put us in mind of those harmonies, from which the general thoughts and affairs of this earth distract us. And in the Middle Ages the seven branches of learning were accordingly associated with those spheres: grammar, logic, and rhetoric (known as the trivium), arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy (the quadrivium). The crystalline spheres themselves, furthermore, were not, like glass, of inert matter, but living spiritual powers, presided over by angelic beings, or, as Plato had said, by sirens. And beyond all, there was that luminous celestial realm where God in majesty sat on his triune throne; so that when the soul, at death, returning to its maker, passed again through the seven spheres, it left off at each the accordant quality and arrived unclothed for the judgment. The emperor and the pope on earth governed, it was supposed, according to the laws and will of God, representing his power and authority at work in the ordained Christian commonalty. Thus in the total view of the medieval thinkers there was a perfect accord between the structure of the universe, the canons of the social order, and the good of the individual. Through unquestioning obedience, therefore, the Christian would put himself into accord not only with his society but also with both his own best inward interests and the outward order of nature. The Christian Empire was an earthly reflex of the order of the heavens, hieratically organized, with the vestments, thrones, and procedures of its stately courts inspired by celestial imagery, the bells of its cathedral spires and harmonies of its priestly choirs echoing in earthly tones the unearthly angelic hosts.

Dante in his Divine Comedy unfolded a vision of the universe that perfectly satisfied both the approved religious and the accepted scientific notions of his time. When Satan had been flung out of heaven for his pride and disobedience, he was supposed to have fallen like a flaming comet and, when he struck the earth, to have plowed right through to its center. The prodigious crater that he opened thereupon became the fiery pit of Hell; and the great mass of displaced earth pushed forth at the opposite pole became the Mountain of Purgatory, which is represented by Dante as lifting heavenward exactly as the South Pole. In his view, the entire southern hemisphere was of water, with this mighty mountain lifting out of it, on whose summit was the Earthly Paradise, from the center of which the four blessed rivers flowed of which Holy Scripture tells.

And now it appears that when Columbus set sail across that "ocean blue" which many of his neighbors (and possibly also his sailors) believed was a terminal ocean surrounding a disklike earth, he himself had in mind an image more like that of Dante's world -- of which we can read, in fact, in his journals. There we learn that in the course of his third voyage, when he reached for the first time the northern coast of South America, passing in his frail craft at great peril between Trinidad and the mainland, he remarked that the quantity of fresh water there mixing with the salt (pouring from the mouths of the Orinoco) was enormous. Knowing nothing of the continent beyond, but having in mind the medieval idea, he conjectured the fresh waters might be coming from one of the rivers of Paradise, pouring into the southern sea from the base of the great antipodal mountain. Moreover, when he then turned, sailing northward, and observed that his ships were faring more rapidly than when they had been sailing south, he took this to be evidence of their sailing now downhill, from the foot of the promontory of the mythic paradisial mountain.

I like to think of the year 1492 as marking the end -- or at least the beginning of the end -- of the authority of the old mythological systems by which the lives of men had been supported and inspired from time out of mind. Shortly after Columbus's epochal voyage, Magellan circumnavigated the globe. Shortly before, Vasco da Gamma had sailed around Africa to India. The earth was beginning to be systematically explored, and the old, symbolic, mythological geographies discredited. In attempting to show that there was somewhere on earth a garden of Paradise, Saint Thomas Aquinas had declared, writing only two centuires and a half before Columbus sailed: "The situation of Paradise is shut off from the habitable world by mountains or seas, or by some torrid region, which cannot be crossed; and so people who have written about topography make no mention of it." Fifty years after the first voyage, Copernicus published his paper on the heliocentric universe (1543); and some sixty-odd years after that, Galileo's little telescope brought tangible confirmation to this Copernican view. In the year 1616 Galileo was condemned by the Office of the Inquisition -- like the boy beside me at the lunch counter, by his mother -- for holding and teaching a doctrine contrary to Holy Scripture. And today, of course, we have those very much larger telescopes on the summits, for example, of Mount Wilson in California, Mount Palomar in the same state, Kitt Peak in Arizona, and Haleakala, Hawaii; so that not only is the sun now well established at the center of our planetary system, but we know it to be but one of some two hundred billion suns in a galaxy of such blazing spheres: a galaxy shaped like a prodigious lens, many hundreds of quintillion miles in diameter. And not only that! but our telescopes now are disclosing to us, among those shining suns, certain other points of light that are themselves not suns but whole galaxies, each as large and great and inconceivable as our own -- of which already many thousands upon thousands have been seen. So that, actually, the occasion for an experience of awe before the wonder of the universe that is being developed for us by our scientists surely is a far more marvelous, mind-blowing revelation than anything the prescientific world could ever have imagined. The little toy-room picture of the Bible is, in comparison, for children -- or, in fact, not even for them any more, to judge from the words of that young scholar beside me at the counter, who, with his "Yes, I know, but this was a scientific paper," had already found a way to rescue his learning from the crumbling medieval architecture of his mother's Church.

For not only have all the old mythic notions of the nature of the cosmos gone to pieces, but also those of the origins and history of mankind. Already in Shakespeare's day, when Sir Walter Raleigh arrived in America and saw here all the new animals unknown on the other side, he understood as a master mariner that it would have been absolutely impossible for Noah to have packed examples of every species on earth into any ark, no matter how large. The Bible legend of the Flood was untrue: a theory that could not be "factualized." And we today (to make matters worse) are dating the earliest appearance of manlike creatures on this earth over a million years earlier than the Biblical date for God's creation of the world. The great paleolithic caves of Europe are from circa 30,000 B.C.; the beginnings of agriculture, 10,000B.C. or so, and the first substantial towns about 7,000. Yet Cain, the eldest son of Adam, the first man, is declared in Genesis 4:2 and 4:17 to have been "a tiller of the ground" and the builder of a city known as Enoch in the land of Nod, east of Eden. The Biblical "theory" has again been proved false, and "they have found the bones!"

They have found also the buildings -- and these do not corroborate Scripture, either. For example, the period of Egyptian history supposed to have been of the Exodus -- of Ramses II (1301-1234B.C.), or perhaps Merneptah (1234-1220) or Seti II (1220-1200) -- is richly represented in architectural and hieroglyphic remains, yet there is no notice anywhere of anything like those famous Biblical plagues, no record anywhere of anything even comparable. Moreover, as other records tell, Bedouin Hebrews, the "Habiru," were already invading Canaan during the reign of Ikhnaton (1377-1358), a century earlier than the Ramses date. The long and the short of it is simply that the Hebrew texts from which all these popular Jewish legends of Creation, Exodus, Forty Years in the Desert, and Conquest of Canaan are derived were not composed by "God" or even by anyone named Moses, but are of various dates and authors, all much later than was formerly supposed. The first five books of the Old Testament (Torah) were assembled only after the period of Ezra (fourth century B.C.),and the documents of which it was fashioned date all the way from the ninth centuryB.C. (the so-called J and E texts) to the second or so (the P, or "priestly" writings). One notices, for example, that there are two accounts of the Flood. From the first we learn that Noah brought "two living things of every sort" into the Ark (Genesis 6:19-20; P text, post-Ezra), and from the second, "seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean" (Genesis 7:2-3; J text, ca. 800B.C. ± 50). We also find two stories of Creation, the earlier in Genesis 2, the later in Genesis 1. In 2, a garden has been planted and a man created to tend it; next the animals are created, and finally (as in dream) Mother Eve is drawn from Adam's rib. In Genesis 1, on the other hand, God, alone with the cosmic waters, says, "Let there be light," etc., and, stage by stage, the universe comes into being: first, light; and the sun, three days later; then, vegetables, animals, and finally mankind, male and female together. Genesis 1 is of about the fourth century B.C. (the period of Aristotle), and 2, of the ninth or eighth (Hesiod's time).

Comparative cultural studies have now demonstrated beyond question that similar mythic tales are to be found in every quarter of this earth. When Cortes and his Catholic Spaniards arrived in Aztec Mexico, they immediately recognized in the local religion so many parallels to their own True Faith that they were hard put to explain the fact. There were towering pyramidal temples, representing, stage by stage, like Dante's Mountain of Purgatory, degrees of elevation of the spirit. There were thirteen heavens, each with its appropriate gods or angels; nine hells, of suffering souls. There was a High God above all, who was beyond all human thought and imaging. There was even an incarnate Saviour, associated with a serpent, born of a virgin, who had died and was resurrected, one of whose symbols was a cross. The padres, to explain all this, invented two myths of their own. The first was that Saint Thomas, the Apostle to the Indies, had probably reached America and here preached the Gospel; but, these shores being so far removed from the influence of Rome, the doctrine had deteriorated, so that what they were seeing around them was simply a hideously degenerate form of their own revelation. And the second explanation, then, was that the devil was here deliberately throwing up parodies of the Christian faith, to frustrate the mission.

Modern scholarship, systematically comparing the myths and rites of mankind, has found just about everywhere legends of virgins giving birth to heroes who die and are resurrected. India is chock-full of such tales, and its towering temples, very like the Aztec ones, represent again our many-storied cosmic mountain, bearing Paradise on its summit and with horrible hells beneath. The Buddhists and the Jains have similar ideas. And, looking backward into the pre-Christian past, we discover in Egypt the mythology of the slain and resurrected Osiris; in Mesopotamia, Tammuz; in Syria, Adonis; and in Greece, Dionysos: all of which furnished models to the early Christians for their representations of Christ.

Now the peoples of all the great civilizations everywhere have been prone to interpret their own symbolic figures literally, and so to regard themselves as favored in a special way, in direct contact with the Absolute. Even the polytheistic Greeks and Romans, Hindus and Chinese, all of whom were able to view the gods and customs of others sympathetically, thought of their own as supreme or, at the very least, superior; and among the monotheistic Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans, of course, the gods of others are regarded as no gods at all, but devils, and their worshipers as godless. Mecca, Rome, Jerusalem, and (less emphatically) Benares and Peking have been for centuries, therefore, each in its own way, the navel of the universe, connected directly -- as by a hot line -- with the Kingdom of Light or of God.

However, today such claims can no longer be taken seriously by anyone with even a kindergarten education. And in this there is serious danger. For not only has it always been the way of multitudes to interpret their own symbols literally, but such literally read symbolic forms have always been -- and still are, in fact -- the supports of their civilizations, the supports of their moral orders, their cohesion, vitality, and creative powers. With the loss of them there follows uncertainty, and with uncertainty, disequilibrium, since life, as both Nietzsche and Ibsen knew, requires life-supporting illusions; and where these have been dispelled, there is nothing secure to hold on to, no moral law, nothing firm. We have seen what has happened, for example, to primitive communities unsettled by the white man's civilization. With their old taboos discredited, they immediately go to pieces, disintegrate, and become resorts of vice and disease.

Today the same thing is happening to us. With our old mythologically founded taboos unsettled by our own modern sciences, there is everywhere in the civilized world a rapidly rising incidence of vice and crime, mental disorders, suicides and dope addictions, shattered homes, impudent children, violence, murder, and despair. These are facts; I am not inventing them. They give point to the cries of the preachers for repentance, conversion, and return to the old religion. And they challenge, too, the modern educator with respect to his own faith and ultimate loyalty. Is the conscientious teacher -- concerned for the moral character as well as for the book-learning of his students -- to be loyal first to the supporting myths of our civilization or to the "factualized" truths of his science? Are the two, on level, at odds? Or is there not some point of wisdom beyond the conflicts of illusion and truth by which lives can be put back together again?

That is a prime question, I would say, of this hour in the bringing up of children. That is the problem, indeed, that was sitting beside me that day at the lunch counter. In that case, both teacher and parent were on the side of an already outdated illusion; and generally -- or so it looks to me -- most guardians of society have a tendency in that direction, asserting their authority not for, but against the search for disturbing truths. Such a trend has even turned up recently among social scientists and anthropologists with regard to discussions of race. And one can readily understand, even share in some measure, their anxiety, since lies are what the world lives on, and those who can face the challenge of a truth and build their lives to accord are finally not many, but the very few.

It is my considered belief that the best answer to this critical problem will come from the findings of psychology, and specifically those findings have to do with the source and nature of myth. For since it has always been on myths that the moral orders of societies have been founded, the myths canonized as religion, and since the impact of science on myths results -- apparently inevitably -- in moral disequilibrarion, we must now ask whether it is not possible to arrive scientifically at such an understanding of the life-supporting nature of myths that, in criticizing their archaic features, we do not misrepresent and disqualify their necessity -- throwing out, so to say, the baby (whole generations of babies) with the bath.

Traditionally, as I have already said, in the orthodoxies of popular faiths mythic beings and events are generally regarded and taught as facts; and this particularly in the Jewish and Christian spheres. Therewas an Exodus from Egypt; there was a Resurrection of Christ. Historically, however, such facts are now in question; hence, the moral orders, too, that they support.

When these stories are interpreted, though, not as reports of historic fact, but as merely imagined episodes projected onto history, and when they are recognized, then, as analogous to like projections produced elsewhere, in China, India, and Yucatán, the import becomes obvious; namely, that although false and to be rejected as accounts of physical history, such universally cherished figures of the mythic imagination must represent facts of the mind: "facts of the mind made manifest in a fiction of matter," as my friend the late Maya Deren once phrased the mystery. And whereas it must, of course, be the task of the historian, archaeologist, and prehistorian to show that the myths are as facts untrue -- that there is no one Chosen People of God in this multiracial world, no Found Truth to which we all must bow, no One and Only True Church -- it will be more and more, and with increasing urgency, the task of the psychologist and comparative mythologist not only to identify, analyze, and interpret the symbolized "facts of the mind," but also to evolve techniques for retaining these in health and, as the old traditions of the fading past dissolve, assist mankind to a knowledge and appreciation of our own inward, as well as the world's outward, orders of fact.

There has been among psychologists a considerable change of attitude in this regard during the past three-quarters of a century or so. When reading the great and justly celebrated Golden Bough of Sir James G. Frazer, the first edition of which appeared in 1890, we are engaged with a typically nineteenth-century author, whose belief it was that the superstitions of mythology would be finally refuted by science and left forever behind. He saw the basis of myth in magic, and of magic in psychology. His psychology, however, being of an essentially rational kind, insufficiently attentive to the more deeply based, irrational impulsions of our nature, he assumed that when a custom or belief was shown to be unreasonable, it would presently disappear. And how wrong he was can be shown simply by pointing to any professor of philosophy at play in a bowling alley: watch him twist and turn after the ball has left his hand, to bring it over to the standing pins. Frazer's explanation of magic was that because things are associated in the mind they are believed to be associated in fact. Shake a rattle that sounds like falling rain, and rain will presently fall. Celebrate a ritual of sexual intercourse, and the fertility of nature will be furthered. An image in the likeness of an enemy, and given the enemy's name, can be worked upon, stuck with pins, etc., and the enemy will die. Or a piece of his clothing, lock of hair, fingernail paring, or other element once in contact with his person can be treated with a like result. Frazer's first law of magic, then, is that "like produces like," an effect resembles its cause; and his second, that "things which once were in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed." Frazer thought of both magic and religion as addressed finally and essentially to the control of external nature; magic mechanically, by imitative acts, and religion by prayer and sacrifice addressed to the personified powers supposed to control natural forces. He seems to have had no sense at all of their relevance and importance to the inward life, and so was confident that, with the progress and development of science and technology, both magic and religion would ultimately fade away, the ends that they had been thought to serve being better and more surely served by science.

Simultaneously with these volumes of Frazer, however, there was appearing in Paris a no less important series of publications by the distinguished neurologist Jean Martin Charcot, treating of hysteria, aphasia, hypnotic states, and the like; demonstrating also the relevance of these findings to iconography and to art. Sigmund Freud spent a year with this master in 1885 and during the first quarter of the present century carried the study of hysteria and of dreams and myths to new depths. Myths, according to Freud's view, are of the psychological order of dream. Myths, so to say, are public dreams; dreams are private myths. Both, in his opinion, are symptomatic of repressions of infantile incest wishes, the only essential difference between a religion and neurosis being that the former is the more public. The person with a neurosis feels ashamed, alone and isolated in his illness, whereas the gods are general projections onto a universal screen. They are equally manifestations of unconscious, compulsive fears and delusions. Moreover, all the arts, and particularly religious arts, are, in Freud's view, similarly pathological; likewise, all philosophies. Civilization itself, in fact, is a pathological surrogate for unconscious infantile disappointments. And thus Freud, like Frazer, judged the worlds of myth, magic, and religion negatively, as errors to be refuted, surpassed, and supplanted finally by science.

An altogether different approach is represented by Carl G. Jung, in whose view the imageries of mythology and religion serve positive, life-furthering ends. According to his way of thinking,all the organs of our bodies -- not only those of sex and aggression -- have their purposes and motives, some being subject to conscious control, others, however, not. Our outward-oriented consciousness, addressed to the demands of the day, may lose touch with these inward forces; and the myths, states Jung, when correctly read, are the means to bring us back in touch. They are telling us in picture language of powers of the psyche to be recognized and integrated in our lives, powers that have been common to the human spirit forever, and which represent that wisdom of the species by which man has weathered the millenniums. Thus they have not been, and can never be, displaced by the findings of science, which relate rather to the outside world than to the depths that we enter in sleep. Through a dialogue conducted with these inward forces through our dreams and through a study of myths, we can learn to know and come to terms with the greater horizon of our own deeper and wiser, inward self. And analogously, the society that cherishes and keeps its myths alive will be nourished from the soundest, richest strata of the human spirit.

However, there is a danger here as well; namely, of being drawn by one's dreams and inherited myths away from the world of modern consciousness, fixed in patterns of archaic feeling and thought inappropriate to contemporary life. What is required, states Jung therefore, is a dialogue, not a fixture at either pole; a dialogue by way of symbolic forms put forth from the unconscious mind and recognized by the conscious in continuous interaction.

And so what then happens to the children of a society that has refused to allow any such interplay to develop, but, clinging to its inherited dream as to a fixture of absolute truth, rejects the novelties of consciousness, of reason, science, and new facts? There is a well-known history that may serve as sufficient warning.

As every schoolboy knows, the beginnings of what we think of as science are to be attributed to the Greeks, and much of the knowledge that they assembled was carried and communicated to Asia, across Persia into India and onward even to China. But every one of those Oriental worlds was already committed to its own style of mythological thought, and the objective, realistic, inquisitive, and experimental attitudes and methods of the Greeks were let go. Compare the science of the Bible, for example -- an Oriental scripture, assembled largely following the Maccabean rejection of Greek influence -- with that, say, of Aristotle; not to mention Aristarchus (fl. 275B.C.), for whom the earth was already a revolving sphere in orbit around the sun. Eratosthenes (fl. 250B.C.) had already correctly calculated the circumference of the earth as 250,000 stadia (24,662 miles: correct equatorial figure, 24,902). Hipparchus (fl. 240 B.C.) had reckoned within a few miles both the moon's diameter and its mean distance from the earth. And now just try to imagine how much of blood, sweat, and real tears -- people burned at the stake for heresy, and all that -- would have been saved, if, instead of closing all the Greek pagan schools, A.D.529, Justinian had encouraged them! In their place, we and our civilization have had Genesis 1 and 2 and a delay of well over a thousand years in the maturation not of science only but of our own and the world's civilization.

One of the most interesting histories of what comes of rejecting science we may see in Islam, which in the beginning received, accepted, and even developed the classical legacy. For some five or six rich centuries there is an impressive Islamic record of scientific thought, experiment, and research, particularly in medicine. But then, alas! the authority of the general community, the Sunna, the consensus -- which Mohammed the Prophet had declared would always be right -- cracked down. The Word of God in the Koran was the only source and vehicle of truth. Scientific thought led to "loss of belief in the origin of the world and in the Creator." And so it was that, just when the light of Greek learning was beginning to be carried from Islam to Europe -- from circa 1100 onward -- Islamic science and medicine came to a standstill and went dead; and with that, Islam itself went dead. The torch not only of science, but of history as well, passed on to the Christian West. And we can thereafter follow the marvelous development in detail, from the early twelfth century onward, through a history of bold and brilliant minds, unmatched for their discoveries in the whole long history of human life. Nor can the magnitude of our debt to these few minds be fully appreciated by anyone who has never set foot in any of the lands that lie beyond the bounds of this European spell. In those so-called "developing nations" all social transformation is the result today, as it has been for centuries, not of continuing processes, but of invasions and their aftermath. Every little group is fixed in its own long-established, petrified mythology, changes having occurred only as a consequence of collision; such as when the warriors of Islam broke into India and for a time there were inevitable exchanges of ideas; or when the British arrived and another upsetting era dawned of startling, unanticipated innovations. In our modern Western world, on the other hand, as a result of the continuing open-hearted and open-minded quest of a few brave men for the bounds of boundless truth, there has been a self-consistent continuity of productive growth, in the nature almost of an organic flowering.

But now, finally, what would the meaning be of the word "truth" to a modern scientist? Surely not the meaning it would have for a mystic! For the really great and essential fact about the scientific revelation -- the most wonderful and most challenging fact -- is that science does not and cannot pretend to be "true" in any absolute sense. It does not and cannot pretend to be final. It is a tentative organization of mere "working hypotheses" ("Oh, those scientists!" "Yes, I know, but they found the bones") that for the present appear to take into account all the relevant facts now known.

And is there no implied intention, then, to rest satisfied with some final body or sufficient number of facts?

No indeed! There is to be only a continuing search for more -- as of a mind eager to grow. And that growth, as long as it lasts, will be the measure of the life of modern Western man, and of the world with all its promise that he has brought and is still bringing into being: which is to say, a world of change, new thoughts, new things, new magnitudes, and continuing transformation, not of petrifaction, rigidity, and some canonized found "truth."

And so, my friends, we don't know a thing, and not even our science can tell us sooth; for it is no more than, so to say, an eagerness for truths, no matter where their allure may lead. And so it seems to me that here again we have a still greater, more alive, revelation than anything our old religions ever gave to us or even so much as suggested. The old texts comfort us with horizons. They tell us that a loving, kind, and just father is out there, looking down upon us, ready to receive us, and ever with our own dear lives on his mind. According to our sciences, on the other hand, nobody knows what is out there, or if there is any "out there" at all. All that can be said is that there appears to be a prodigious display of phenomena, which our senses and their instruments translate to our minds according to the nature of our minds. And there is a display of a quite different kind of imagery from within, which we experience best at night, in sleep, but which may also break into our daylight lives and even destroy us with madness. What the background of these forms, external and internal, may be, we can only surmise and possibly move toward through hypotheses. What are they, or where, or why (to ask all the usual questions) is an absolute mystery -- the only absolute known, because absolutely unknown; and this we must all now have the magnitude to concede.

There is no "Thou shalt!" any more. There is nothing one has to believe, and there is nothing one has to do. On the other hand, one can of course, if one prefers, still choose to play at the old Middle Ages game, or some Oriental game, or even some sort of primitive game. We are living in a difficult time, and whatever defends us from the madhouse can be applauded as good enough -- for those without nerve.

When I was in India in the winter of 1954, in conversation with an Indian gentleman of just about my own age, he asked with a certain air of distance, after we had exchanged formalities, "What are you Western scholars now saying about the dating of the Vedas?"

The Vedas, you must know, are the counterparts for the Hindu of the Torah for the Jew. They are his scriptures of the most ancient date and therefore of the highest revelation.

"Well," I answered, "the dating of the Vedas has lately been reduced and is being assigned, I believe, to something like, say, 1500 to 1000B.C. As you probably know," I added, "there have been found in India itself the remains of an earlier civilization than the Vedic."

"Yes," said the Indian gentleman, not testily but firmly, with an air of untroubled assurance, "I know; but as an orthodox Hindu I cannot believe that there is anything in the universe earlier than the Vedas." And he meant that.

"Okay," said I. "Then why did you ask?"

To give old India, however, its due, let me conclude with the fragment of a Hindu myth that to me seems to have captured in a particularly apt image the whole sense of such a movement as we today are all facing at this critical juncture of our general human history. It tells of a time at the very start of the history of the universe when the gods and their chief enemies, the anti-gods, were engaged in one of their eternal wars. They decided this time to conclude a truce and in cooperation to churn the Milky Ocean -- the Universal Sea -- for its butter of immortality. They took for their churning-spindle the Cosmic Mountain (the Vedic counterpart of Dante's Mountain of Purgatory), and for a twirling-cord they wrapped the Cosmic Serpent around it. Then, with the gods all pulling at the head end and the anti-gods at the tail, they caused that Cosmic Mountain to whirl. And they had been churning thus for a thousand years when a great black cloud of absolutely poisonous smoke came up out of the waters, and the churning had to stop. They had broken through to an unprecedented source of power, and what they were experiencing first were its negative, lethal effects. If the work were to continue, some one of them was going to have to swallow and absorb that poisonous cloud, and, as all knew, there was but one who would be capable of such an act; namely, the archetypal god of yoga, Shiva, a frightening daemonic figure. He just took that entire poison cloud into his begging bowl and at one gulp drank it down, holding it by yoga at the level of his throat, where it turned the whole throat blue; and he has been known as Blue Throat, Nilakantha, ever since. Then, when that wonderful deed had been accomplished, all the other gods and the anti-gods returned to their common labor. And they churned and they churned and they went right on tirelessly churning, until lo! a number of wonderful benefits began coming up out of the Cosmic Sea: the moon, the sun, an elephant with eight trunks came up, a glorious steed, certain medicines, and yes, at last! a great radiant vessel filled with the ambrosial butter.

This old Indian myth I offer as a parable for our world today, as an exhortation to press on with the work, beyond fear.

1972

February 20, 2006

The Rainbow Bridge by Two Disciples

Introduction to the Rainbow Bridge Techniques

Before union with the Soul can be achieved, the lower self or personality must be purified and the obstacles to union removed. The Rainbow Bridge techniques are offered to aid the student in purification of the personality vehicles, the etheric / vital body, the emotional body, and the lower mental body or conscious self. These impurities or low-grade thought forms appear to extended perception as surrounding dark clouds and forms of low grade energies, some shifting and churning, some partially fixed and condensed, some loosely connected forming a cage-like grid that imprisons its owner, some dense and attached to the body and affecting the organs and their functions (See Figure 1). THEY EXIST IN EVERYONE, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, and are the results of many lifetimes of instinctual or physical evolution, of excessive emotional development, mostly uncontrolled desire, and of incomplete mental growth, mostly imperfect thinking or thought form building. The Two Disciples mention that they have observed these impurities in every spiritual teacher, and yogi that they have met.

The Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul has written about these thought forms and impurities in the aura. "Much of the ineffectiveness of people is due to the fact that their interests are not centralized but very diffuse, and no one thing engrosses their attention. They scatter their energy and are attempting to satisfy every wandering desire, and to dabble in everything which comes their way. Therefore, no thought they think ever assumes proper form, or is ever duly energized. They are consequently surrounded by a dense cloud of half-formed disintegrating thought forms and clouds of partially energized matter in process of dissolution. This produces occultly a condition similar to the decay of a physical form, and is equally unpleasant and unwholesome. It accounts for much of the diseased condition of the human family at this time." (p.975, Treatise on Cosmic Fire).

To have this mass of disintegrating thought forms in your aura, sets you up for a number of problems.

1. These disintegrating thought forms stand between you and your external world interfering with clear perception and communication.

2. On the receiving side, they make you vulnerable to (a) mob influence or mass consciousness, (b) influence, suggestion and control by others (e.g. thoughts of gender, race, or ethnic inferiority or superiority) (c) infection and disease.

3. On the transmitting side, they cause (a) low self-esteem, (b) excessive emotional reactions, (c) misinterpretation of code and customs, (d) undesirable behavior and a imperfect response to the environment.

4. These ancient thought forms, carried over from life to life, block the connection and distort the communication between the person and his/her Higher Self. This self-made barrier between you and your Soul causes you to (a) hold to outworn ideals, (b) be deceived as to sources of aspiration, (c) accept false teachings as true, (d) make the practice of most yoga and magic unsuccessful and dangerous, and (e) deflect downpours of energy from the Soul.

In their book, Thought forms, Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater have noted, so long as any of the coarser kinds of matter connected with evil and selfish thoughts remain in a person's body, he is open to attack from those who wish him evil. But, when he has perfectly eliminated these by self-purification, his haters cannot injure him. He goes on calmly and peacefully amid all the darts of their malice and their evil thoughts are deflected from his aura and return to the sender (p. 30, Thought forms).

It is not only possible to purify the vehicles, but it is absolutely necessary before the real techniques of spiritual enlightenment or self-realization can be successfully undertaken.

The Rainbow Bridge techniques offer a "do-it-yourself" program for removing impurities that ordinarily would have to be lived out the hard way by releasing the energy locked within them through suffering and illness over several lifetimes.

Overview of the Rainbow Bridge Phase I and II Techniques

The Rainbow Bridge techniques involve two phases. In phase I, the first technique the student is taught is to use the Soul Invocation to align with and invoke the cooperation of the Soul before doing any spiritual practice. This step is key because, in the Rainbow Bridge techniques, the Soul does the work and the personality or conscious mind merely cooperates. The Rainbow Bridge techniques are without effect unless they are preceded by the Soul Invocation or an invocation with a similar intent.

After the student has aligned and invoked the cooperation of the Soul by use of the Soul Invocation, the Soul Star becomes responsive to your thoughts and is used to build the Central Channel. The Central Channel is built to prepare the body to receive a greater influx of spiritual energy. The upper section of the Central Channel bridges the gap between the lower mind and higher mind and is known as the Rainbow Bridge or Antahkarana. It provides a conduit through which high vibration energies can be safely moved through the body. The student is taught how to align with the Soul and activate the Soul Star by use of the Soul Invocation. The Soul Star is located about six inches above the head and is the instrument the Soul uses to transform and purify the matter of the three lower vehicles (vital or etheric body, the emotional body, and the mental body). It also has other functions.

Once the basic Central Channel is built, it is systematically widened. Also during phase I, a tool of the Soul called the Spiritual Whirl Wind or Etheric Vortex is used to sweep debris from the aura that is created by the movement of the Soul Star through the body. The Soul Star is a ball of solar fire and when it is moved into the body, it literally burns through debris that is clogging your Central Channel. This debris must be removed by use of the Spiritual Whirlwind. Whenever the Soul Star is moved through the body, the Spiritual Whirlwind must be used afterwards to sweep the aura of debris.

Once the Central Channel has been widened to about 1 inch in diameter, which usually takes about six to eight weeks doing just the widening phase, the student can begin phase 2, the clearing work. It has been observed that by use of the Soul Invocation followed by simply moving the Soul Star through the Central Channel from a point 6 inches below the feet, the Earth Star, to a point about 6 inches above the head, the Soul Star, on a daily basis followed by use of the Spiritual Vortex that some clearing of the external patterns (low-grade thought-forms that appear outside of the body in the surrounding aura) is accomplished. However, if only one or two revolutions of the Soul Star through the channel are done per day, this method of clearing will be much slower than the phase II methods which uses a series of 36 verbs that are placed in a structured series of sentences and repeated for several minutes by the student. By using the Phase II clearing techniques, the external patterns can be cleared in 2 to 5 years. If the process is continued the internal patterns will also begin to be cleared. A study has been initiated to determine if the clearing process of simply moving the Soul Star with its radiant field through the central channel can be speeded up to equal or surpass that of the Phase II word forms by simply increasing the number of times the Soul Star is moved through the channel.

The purification work results in the following permanent benefits:

* You no longer have a permanent barrier around you which modifies communication from and to you.
* The low vibration energies which are a channel for infection are removed.
* Suggestions of low self-esteem and failure are no longer stimulated.
* Your body ages more slowly and your health is enhanced because the flow of life force (prana) through the body and aura is no longer obstructed by energy, emotional and mental blockages.
* The main channel for uncontrolled emotional response is removed - as is quick response to emotionalism from others.
* The heavy karmic influence of ancient thought forms and mistakes are eliminated.
* You will have an increased capacity to invoke and retain the light of the Soul.
* You will find it easier to recognize your companions on the Path, the ones you are destined to work with.
* You will move rapidly into awareness of the consciousness of your Soul. Common culturally based labels for this universal state of higher consciousness are "Christ consciousness" in the west, and "Atma (Self) consciousness" or "the Buddha Mind," or "the mind of enlightenment (bodhichitta)" in the east.
* By building the central channel, you will be of service to the Masters of the Planetary Hierarchy and to the planet by becoming anchor points for the transmission of vital energies that will purify the planet and accelerate the externalization of the Hierarchy.
* Telepathy and the higher psychic powers of the Initiate will begin to develop. Djwhal Khul has said that "--the powers of the Initiate are gained not from any study but by changes in the etheric vehicle." The Rainbow Bridge techniques make changes in the etheric, emotional and mental bodies to accelerate this process.

About the Developers of the Rainbow Bridge Techniques

Josephine and Norman Stevens were the developers of the Rainbow Bridge Techniques and authors of the Rainbow Bridge books. They were conscious working disciples in the Externalizing Ashram of the Master Djwhal Khul, whose principal function is to begin the externalization process of the next kingdom in nature, the Kingdom of Heaven, and to prepare the way for the reappearance of the World Teacher, the Christ.

They describe their background below:

We, the "Two Disciples" who wrote the Rainbow Bridge series, have had lifetimes of experience with the teachings of the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, who dictated many books on occult philosophy to Alice A. Bailey from 1919 to 1949. We had intimate association with Alice and Foster Bailey and their work as they implemented the teachings of the Master Djwhal Khul by the printing and distribution of His many books, countless pamphlets and the invaluable work of the Arcane School. Our association with the Baileys covered all phases from the early days of the Arcane School until a few years after the death of Alice A. Bailey. Djwhal Khul's efforts were to present the Ancient Wisdom, the Mystery Teachings, to the disciple-student in a suitable form adapted to modern mental development.

We belong to the New Group of World Servers, along with an increasing number of incarnating egos who are coming in to serve in the dawning New Age. We are Telepathic Communicators, as described by Djwhal Khul on page 606 of A Treatise on White Magic, who prefer to work behind the scenes and acknowledge our position only when it serves the purposes of the Planetary Hierarchy during this time of transition. We both have extended perceptions of differing types and degrees and are a working team.

Our approach is based on a modern adaptation of Djwhal Khul's teachings, as given through His amenuensis, Alice A. Bailey. These books have been and are our textbooks. Our work is intended to be practical above all else. It is our intention to present the results of a lifetime of study and experiments to accomplish certain needed changes in the vehicles of the aspirant-disciple, which are required before the disciple can transmit or ground the energies of Externalization which are preliminary to the Return of the Christ. (From Rainbow Bridge II, p.xiii-xiv)

In addition, Norman Stevens was a director of the Lucis Trust for 7 years and Josephine, in addition to helping AAB with the Arcane School, also worked for a while as Alice A. Bailey's personal secretary. Josephine Stevens had remarkable clairvoyant and telepathic abilities. She was able to see changes in the aura and inner vehicles on a daily basis on many sublevels from the etheric to the Monadic. It was this ability that enabled Josephine and Norman to empirically verify the effects of the Rainbow Bridge techniques by observing and recording the changes it made in the energy fields of their students for more than ten years. A copy of three of the charts and records they kept on their students is shown on page 181 and 182 of the Rainbow Bridge II book. One of the Brothers of the Hierarchy told Josephine that, at that time, there were only 25 people on the planet with her level of vision. I share this information so that, you, the reader will have some insight into the quality and depth of knowledge that these two Disciples brought to their work.

*

The Ageless Wisdom teaches that the Divine Plan for the evolution of humanity leads to ultimate physical health and finally -IMMORTALITY in a perfect body.

The spiritual reason behind the above statement is that it is the purpose of Spirit, the spark of the One Life within each of us, to express fully through matter. Spirit adapts matter to its purpose. The adaptation process is called evolution. Evolution involves the sequential refinement of the substance of matter and a parallel expansion in the consciousness of matter. The Soul serves the purpose of Spirit and for this reason is willing to cooperate with the personality to purify the vehicles. Its purpose is not personal as much as it is in service to the Divine Plan.

The Rainbow Bridge techniques burn karma and save lifetimes of suffering. The techniques differ from guided imagery techniques in that its success does not depend on the quality of visualization, instead the success depends on your willingness to cooperate with the Soul by invoking its assistance. Once you invoke the Soul by use of the , "I am the Soul," the Soul responds to your thought and does the work of clearing low-grade energy for you. Your part of the bargain is simply to hold the intent in your consciousness for oneness with the Higher Self and communicate to the Soul Star the work to be done by your thought and imagine that it is doing it. This imaging process is a way of communicating your request to your Soul Star. Your Soul has waited ages for you to turn your attention to it by your own free will. When you do, it responds with unconditional love, joy, and a grace that transforms you and integrates you with your true Self. No longer fragmented by a dual consciousness, you become One. One with the Self and and since the Self is already One with the Whole, you become one with the One and simultaneously one with All.

"Let the Warrior within fight your battles."

Knowledge of the Soul Star and the method of building the Central Vertical Channel and clearing the aura was secret until its release in 1975 by the approval of the Masters of the Planetary Hierarchy. Even today, you will find almost nothing in print about the use of the Soul Star beyond what has been published in the Rainbow Bridge books and copied by many others. Josephine and Norman Stevens, the authors of Rainbow Bridge I and II, were told by one of the members of the Planetary Hierarchy that the process of building the Central Channel as a personality was expected by the Spiritual Hierarchy but not as soon as it happened. In the past, the process of building the Central Channel and the clearing of thought forms from the aura had been done in ashrams or retreats by the Masters. Due to the very large increase in the number of disciples being born at this time, and the advancement in human consciousness, the work can now be done by ourselves to relieve the growing burden from the Masters. In my more than 30 years of experimenting with various spiritual practices and guided imagery, no other technique had as quick and dramatic effect on changing the quality of my energy as did the Rainbow Bridge Phase I and II clearing techniques. It is for this reason that I feel impelled to share them with those who seek the Light of their Soul. Even if you are already firmly established in a spiritual practice I am certain your practice will improve if you form the habit of invoking the cooperation of the Soul before you start your daily spiritual work and act "as if" you are the Soul while performing your practice. The invocation to the Soul and the "as if" technique were two of the basic instructions the Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul gave to his group (See p. 123, Discipleship in the New Age Vol. 2). Since energy follows thought, the use of the "as if" technique must ultimately result in your success.

*

"Most people, inwardly, look like walking thunderclouds - dark and turbulent and...quite unpleasant, except for the few who show radiance in the upper area of the...aura (Fig 1)...They) are almost entirely obscured by the heavy load they carry around....This constitutes the "cloud", the loose churning material that fills the...subtle bodies - etheric/vital, astral/emotional, and the lower mental...

....(T)here is (also) a more permanent and denser structure which may be termed the "cage" because it encloses and shuts the individual off entirely from the outside world....Without the "cloud" of loose material, this cage appears as a loosely organised series of linked distortions which move with the disciple through every act of his life. These distortions appear to extrude from within, although the seeds for tehir growth incarnate with the man; his reactions to his life and experiences cause them to grow and take form...

Close to the body and adhering to it are heavier, more resistant agglomerations of energy-substance which are extremely individual, and of an even more limiting nature....(T)hey are undesirable residue from the past and must be removed through the process of purification or clearing."

1975

February 12, 2006

Magick without Tears by Aleister Crowley

Chapter XV: Sex Morality

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Thank you! I am to cover the whole question of sex in a few well-chosen words? Am I to suppose that you want to borrow money? Such fulsome flattery suggests the indirect approach.

As a matter of fact, your proposal is not so outrageous as it sounds at first; for as far as the English language goes, there is really hardly anything worth reading. 98.138 per cent of it is what Frances Ridley Ravergal used to call "fiddlesticks, blah, boloney, Bull-shit, and the bunk."

However, quite recently I issued an Encyclical to the Faithful with the attractive title of Artemis Iota, and I propose that we read this into the record, to save trouble, and because it gives a list of practically all the classics that you ought to read. Also, it condenses information and advice to "beginners," with due reference to the positive injunctions given in The Book of the Law.

Still, for the purpose of these letters, I should like to put the whole matter in a nutshell. The Tree of Life, as usual, affords a convenient means of classification.

1. To the physical side of it psychological laws apply. "Don't monkey with the buzz-saw!" as John Wesley might have put it, though I doubt whether he did.
2. The "moral" side. As in the case of the voltage of a cissoid, there isn't one. Mind your own business! is the sole sufficient rule. To drag in social, economic, religious, and such aspects is irrelevance and impurity.
3. The Magical side. Sex is, directly or indirectly, the most powerful weapon in the armoury of the Magician; and precisely because there is no moral guide, it is indescribably dangerous. I have given a great many hints, especially in Magick, and The Book of Thoth—some of the cards are almost blatantly revealing; so I have been rapped rather severely over the knuckles for giving children matches for playthings. My excuse has been that they have already got the matches, that my explanations have been directed to add conscious precautions to the existing automatic safeguards.

The above remarks refer mainly to the technique of the business; and it is going a very long way to tell you that you ought to be able to work out the principles thereof from your general knowledge of Magick, but especially the Formula of Tetragrammaton, clearly stated and explained in Magick, Chap. III. Combine this with the heart of Chap. XII and you've got it!

But there is another point at issue. This incidentally, is where the "automatic safeguards" come in. "...thou hast no right but to do thy will." (AL I, 42) means that to "go anwhoring after strange" purposes can only be disastrous. It is possible, in chemistry, to provoke an endothermic reaction; but that is only asking for trouble. The product bears within its own heart the seed of dissolution. Accordingly, the most important preliminary to any Magical operation is to make sure that its object is not only harmonious with, but necessary to, your Great Work.

Note also that the use of this supreme method involves the manipulation of energies ineffably secret and most delicately sensitive; it compares with the operations of ordinary Magick as the last word in artillery does with the blunderbuss!

I ought to have mentioned the sexual instinct or impulse in itself, careless of magical or any other considerations soever: the thing that picks you up by the scruff of the neck, slits your weasand with a cavalry sabre, and chucks the remains over the nearest precipice.

What is the damn thing, anyway?

That's just the trouble; for it is the first of the masks upon the face of the True Will; and that mask is the Poker-Face!

As all true Art is spontaneous, is genius, is utterly beyond all conscious knowledge or control, so also is sex. Indeed, one might class it as deeper still than Art; for Art does at least endeavour to find an intelligible means of expression. That is much nearer to sanity than the blind lust of the sex-impulse. The maddest genius does look from Chokmah not only to Binah, but to the fruit of that union in Da'ath and the Ruach; the sex-impulse has no use for Binah to understand, to interpret, to transmit. It wants no more than an instrument which will destroy it.

"Here, I say, Master, have a heart!"

Nonsense! (I continue) What I say is the plain fact, and well you know it! More, damned up, hemmed in, twisted and tortured as it has been by religion and morality and all the rest of it, it has learnt to disguise itself, to appear in a myriad forms of psychosis, neurosis, actual insanity of the most dangerous types. You don't have to look beyond Hitler! Its power and its peril derive directly from the fatal fact that in itself it is the True Will in its purest form.

What then is the magical remedy? Obvious enough to the Qabalist. "Love is the law, love under will." It must be fitted at its earliest manifestations with its proper Binah, so as to flow freely along the Path of Daleth, and restore the lost Balance. Attempts to suppress it are fatal, to sublime it are false and futile. But guided wisely from the start, by the time it becomes strong it has learnt how to use its virtues to the best advantage.

And what of the parallel instinct in a woman? Except in (rather rare) cases of congenital disease or deformity, the problem is never so acute.

For Binah, even while she winks a Chokmah, has the other eye wide-open, swivelled on Tiphareth. Her True Will is thus divided by Nature from the start, and her tragedy is if she fails to unite these two objects. Oh, dear me, yes, I know all about "spretæ injuria formæ" and "furens quid femina possit"; but that is only because when she misses her bite she feels doubly baffled, robbed not only of the ecstatic Present, but of the glamorous Future. If she eat independently of the Fruit of the Tree of Life when unripe, she has not only the bad taste in the mouth, but indigestion to follow. Then, living as she does so much in the world of imagination, constantly living shadow-pictures of her Desire, she is not nearly so liable to the violent insanities of sheer blind lust, as is the male. The essential difference is indicated by that of their respective orgasms, the female undulatory, the male catastrophic.

The above, taken all in all, may not be fully comprehensive, not wholly satisfying to the soul, but one thing with another, enough for a cow to chew the cud on.

Good night!

Love is the law, love under will.

Fraternally,

666


1954

February 05, 2006

The Trail by Olive C.B. Pixley

The Law of Transmutation (lecture delivered March 8, 1934)

This is yet another attempt to pass on to you the teachings I have received concerning transcendental conditions.

In four lectures given between 1930 and 1934 I have endeavoured to share with you different aspects of this teaching in Light.

The fist, on Conscious Mediumship, told you how it all started; how I, consciously, went through old Initiations-part of the Egyptian and part of the Hermetic-experiencing again the ancient knowledge of magical and spiritual forces. In using the word “magic”, I want you to eliminate from your minds, the adjective “black.”

We have, in these superficial days, a loose method of thinking, and a still more casual way of talking, and the word “magic” invariably conjures up in our minds evil practices and secret rites of a sinister nature. But in the days to which I am alluding, the men who learnt the laws of earth, or magical forces, were priests, and by the secret ritual of their inspiration they were able to fuse in harmony of operations the various rays of energy, impinging on, and emanating from the earth. They were the scientists of their civilisation. Electricity and wireless are the magic of the twentieth century; and the black side of modern magic is poison gas, torpedoes, and aerial bombs-forces of destruction, the strike fear into the hearts of men. There always has been knowledge of how to transmute substances for constructive or destructive ends. In this knowledge is contained the power to cure, the power to kill, the souls and bodies of the human race; ad whether it is called science or magic, the power is the same, though manifestation differs with each civilization.

The important point that emerged out of that experience of receiving direct into my conscious understanding, the knowledge of the old Initiations, was the certainty that no knowledge is lost; but, in the appointed time, it is superseded. We shall never progress by looking backwards. Excavations establish truth, and confirm theories but can never reveal future experiences.

In the next lecture, which is called “The Worship of the Light,” I recorded various experiences obtained through psychometrising old stones. On these ancient sites, the old ritual lived again and clarified my conviction that knowledge of the laws of light was, and is, and is to come.

The third lecture-“The Freedom of Two Worlds”- dealt with my dawning understanding of the past, the present, and the future condition of the soul; with the achievement of the Christ in fusing, in His human body, the laws of light and matter; and in demonstrating in His resurrection, the transcendental Law of Transmutation.

In my last lecture, entitled “Revelation,” I enlarged, as far as I could, on the fact that this teaching provides the way of experience; and that is only through the individual experience that Divine Revelation is apprehended.

And now, this fifth, and (I think) last lecture if the series, is an attempt to touch, as it were, the hem of His garment, and endeavour to bring within the scope of our comprehension the knowledge of the power of that this Law of Transmutation gives to man. For it is the Law of Manifestation.

In ancient days, alchemy was an established science. The formulae were generally the secret possession of the individual alchemists, and their researches provide the experience of a life time.

On one of my psychmetrising expeditions, I came, quite unexpectedly on an alchemist’s stone. On our way from Scotland, we stopped at an old Roman village (Uriconium, near Shrewsbury) which had been extensively excavated. As none of us had been there before, and as we were not pressed for time, we went to look at it, with no thought of psychometry in our minds. Like steel to a magnet I was drawn to a stone placed on a mound in one of the numerous small dug-outs which show the foundation walls of the various residences. It necessitated my clamboring down a wall, and climbing up the mound, on which there was barely room for me to crouch, and I did not know till I felt it in what lay its attraction for me.

There was silt on the top of the stone in which it was just possible for me to get the tips of my fingers. As I worked, pressing my hand down as far as I could, slowly the picture of an old man came, and I knew he was engaged in a trade that brought people into his place, and that he pursued quite openly his secret researches, and was never suspected of being an alchemist because of his trade. I got quite vividly this mixing of minute quantities of very precious substances, with the greatest care and accuracy, and I got very thrilled and wished I could have pressed my fingers farther down, as I knew there was something left there which I could not make contact with. And then I knew that the formula had gone for ever, that the cipher had been burnt.

It is not often that I get corroboration as promptly as I did that day. For, going round the place we talked to a man who had helped to excavate. On asking him if he knew what the place was where the stone stood, and if it had any connection with the spot where it was standing, he told us that it was thought to be a blacksmith’s forge. A large furnace had been unearthed, and the stone was near it; and in that furnace they had discovered many crucibles of various sizes. The point of extraordinary interest for me was the fact that they had found several minute crucibles, so tiny that they could not imagine for what purpose they had been used. He then took us round the small museum, and showed us the microscopic little containers, and I recognized at once that they, or similar to them, had held the precious fragments that my alchemist had worked on. I seemed to know that he was a metal worker, and not a black-smith.; and that, as an expert craftsman he was able to carry out his experiments quite unsuspected by his clients. We also learned that the town had been entirely destroyed by fire.

I had another interesting experience at this same place. We were walking around the grounds, and I suddenly stopped, arrested by the sound of women’s voices. They were chatting and laughing; and I, too, burst out laughing. It all seemed so gay, and though I couldn’t really understand the words, I somehow knew the meaning, and they were gossiping and joking and being most amusing.

Afterwards were learnt that I was standing at the entrance of what was called “the hall of conversation,” leading to the Roman ladies’ baths!

The intonation of those women’s voices is there now, as fresh and as strong as in the time when they all chattered and laughed together.

Two episodes-the first being the record in stone of the science of alchemy. That alchemist’s stone was the prelude to our modern factories, where synthetic gold can be produced, where milk may be transmuted into eronoid. Alchemy has developed into industry, and magic into science; but that aspect of the Law of Transmutation which changes the spirit and substance of man, has been demonstrated, but has never been technically developed; and it is that aspect of the Law that I desire to deal with now.

The secret researches of modern scientists are largely concerned with the elimination of the germs of disease in the blood. What are future generations going to say of the researches of man to-day? They will read the records of the sacrifice of monkeys, rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats on the altar (or dissecting table) of the god of Health. Will they see a vast difference between the expression of science and the manifestation of magic? Or the sacrifice of bulls and heifers to Jehovah?

Down all the centuries comes this investigation into the power of the blood-this link between the expression of finite and infinite life. There are many rituals concerned with blood rites that are practiced in some races in different parts of the world, to-day; and there is a profound knowledge in the biological world of the functionary power of blood. The Key to understanding of this Law of Transmutation lies in the comprehension of the ingredients pf the blood. It rests with the biologists to supply, as it were, the keyhole, but it should be through the inspiration of the spiritual scientist to fit the key. If man were wholly human, science could evolve a completely healthy body, by eliminating the disease germs from the blood, and also supplying the blood with the ingredients it lacks, thus ensuring a healthy circulation. Man, however, being partly divine, has that Life Principle in his blood that no doctor can revitalize, once the heart ceases to beat. He must, therefore, look to the Divine Specialist to supply the missing link.

It was by the power in His blood, that Jesus, the Christ, based his claim to His divine attributes. There was that substance, He said, in His blood, which had power to save the whole world. A pretty big claim; and one, of course, repudiated by his ignorant enemies. The man who, through his research work, discovered the use of insulin, had power to save those suffering from diabetes from inevitable death, and results justified his claim. It can only be by results that claims are established.

(will add more later...more pages in this chapter)

1919