THE ANNUNCIATION AND IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Much is said in certain classes of the Western World about Initiation. This in the minds of most people seems usually to be associated with the occultism taught in the religions of the far East; something that is peculiar to the devotees of Buddhism, Hinduism, and kindred systems of faith, and which in nowise appertains to the religion of the Western World, particularly to the Christian religion.
We have shown in the preceding series on "Symbols and Ancient and Modern Initiation: that this idea is entirely gratuitous, and that the ancient Tabernacle in the Wilderness pictures in its symbolism the path of progression from childlike ignorance to superhuman knowledge. As the VEDAS brought light to the devotees who worshiped in faith and fervor on the banks of the Ganges in the sunny South, so the Eddas were a guiding star to the sons of the rugged Northland, who sought the Light of life in ancient Iceland where the sturdy Vikings steered their ships in frozen seas. "Arjuna," who fights the noble fight in the "Mahabharata," or "Great War," constantly being waged between the higher and the lower self, difference in nowise from the hero of the northern soul myth, "Siegfried," which means, "He who through victory gains peace."
Both are representative of the candidate undergoing Initiation. And though their experiences in this great adventure vary in certain respects called for by the temperamental differences of the northern and southern peoples, and provided for in the respective schools to which they are referred for soul growth, the main features are identical, and the end, which is enlightenment, is the same. Aspiring souls have walked to the Light in the brilliantly illuminated Persian temples where the sun god in his blazing chariot was the symbol of Light, as well as under the mystic magnificence of the iridescence shed abroad by the aurora borealis of the frozen North. That the true Light of the deepest esoteric knowledge has always been present in all ages, even the darkest of the so-called dark, there is ample evidence to show.
Raphael used his wonderful skill with the brush to embody it in two of his great paintings, "The Sistine Madonna" and the "Marriage of the Virgin," which we would advise the interested reader to examine for himself. Copies of these paintings are procurable in almost any art store. In the original there is a peculiar tint of golden haze behind the Madonna and Child, which though exceedingly crude to one gifted with spiritual sight, is nevertheless as close an imitation of the basic color of the first-heaven world as it is possible to make with the pigments of earth. Close inspection of this background will reveal the fact that it is composed of a multitude of what we are used to call "angel" heads and wings.
This again is as literal a pictorial representation of facts concerning the inhabitants of that world as could be given, for during the process of purgation which takes place in the lower regions of the Desire World the lower parts of the body are actually disintegrated so that only the head, containing the intelligence of the man, remains when he enters the first heaven, a fact which has puzzled many who have happened to see the souls there. The wings of course have no reality outside the picture, but were placed there to show ability to move swiftly, which is inherent in all beings in the invisible worlds. The People is represented as pointing to the Madonna and the Christ Child, and a close examination of the hand wherewith he points will show that it has six fingers. There is not historical evidence to show that the Pontiff actually had such a deformity, neither can that fact be an accident; the six fingers in the painting must therefore have been due to design on the part of the painter.
What its purpose was we shall learn by examination of the "Marriage of the Virgin," where a similar anomaly may be noted. In that picture Mary and Joseph are represented together with he Christ Child under such conditions that it is evident that they are just on the eve of departure for Egypt, and a Rabbi is in the act of joining them in wedlock. The left foot of Joseph is the foremost object in the picture, and if we count we shall find it represented as having six toes. By the six fingers in the Pope's picture and the six toes of Joseph, Raphael wants to show us that both possessed a sixth sense such as is awakened by Initiation. By this subtle sense the foot of Joseph was guided in its flight to keep secure that sacred things which had been entrusted to his care. To the other was given a sixth sense that he might not be a blind leader of the blind but might have the "seeing eye" required to point out the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And it is a fact, though not commonly known, that with one or two exceptions when political power was strong enough to corrupt the College of Cardinals, all who have sat upon the so-called throne of Peter have had the spiritual sight in a greater or lesser degree.
We have seen in the articles on "Symbols of Ancient and Modern Initiation," which preceded the present article, that the Atlantean Mystery Temple known as the Tabernacle in the Wilderness was a school of soul growth; and it should not surprise us to learn that the four Gospels containing the life of Christ are also formulae of Initiation, revealing another and a later Path to power. In the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, Horus was the first fruit whom the aspirant endeavored to imitate, and it is significant that in the Ritual of Initiation which was in vogue in that day and which we now call the "Book of the Dead," the aspirant to Initiation was always addressed Horus so-and-so. Following the same method today we might appropriately address those following the Christian Path of Initiation as Christ so-and-so, for as a matter of fact all who tread this Path are really Christs-in-the-making. Each in his or her turn will reach the different stations of the Via Dolorosa, or Path of Sorrow, which leads to Calvary, and experience in his or her own body the pangs and pains suffered by the Hero of the Gospels. Initiation is a cosmic process of enlightenment and evolution of power; therefore the experiences of all are similar in the main features.
The Christian Mystic form of Initiation differs radically from the Rosicrucian method, which aims to bring the candidate to compassion through knowledge, and therefore seeks to cultivate in him the latent faculties of spiritual sight and hearing at the very start of his career as an aspirant to the higher life. it teaches him to know the hidden mysteries of being and to perceive intellectually the unity of each with all, so that at last through this knowledge there is awakened within him the feeling that makes him truly realize his oneness with all that lives and moves, which puts him in full and perfect tune with the Infinite, making him a true helper and worker in the divine kingdom of evolution.
The goal attained through the Christian Mystic Initiation is the same, but the method, as said, is entirely different. In the first place, the candidate is usually unconscious of trying to attain any definite object, at least during the first stages of his endeavors, and there is in this noble School of Initiation but no Teacher, the Christ, who is ever before the spiritual vision of the candidate as the Ideal and the Goal of all his striving. The Western world, alas! has become so enmeshed in intellectuality that its aspirants can only enter the Path when their reason has been satisfied; and unfortunately it is a desire for more knowledge which brings most of the pupils to the Rosicrucian School. It is an arduous task to cultivate in them the compassion which must blend with their knowledge and be the guiding factor in the use of it before they are fitted to enter the Kingdom of Christ. But those who are drawn to the Christian Mystic Path feel no difficulty of that nature. They have within themselves an all-embracing love, which urges them onward and eventually generates in them a knowledge which the writer believes to be far superior to that attained by any other method. One who follows the intellectual Path of development is apt to sneer superciliously at another whose temperament impels him along the Mystic Path. Such an attitude of mind is not only detrimental to the spiritual development of whoever entertains it, but it is entirely gratuitous, as the works of Jacob Boehme, Thomas a Kempis, and many other who have followed the Mystic Path will show. The more knowledge we possess the greater condemnation also shall we merit if we do not use it right. But love, which is the basic principle in the Christian Mystic's life, can never bring us into condemnation or conflict with the purposes of God. It is infinitely better to be able to FEEL any noble emotion that to have the keenest intellect and one which is able to define all emotions. Hairsplitting over the constitution and evolution of the atom surely will not promote soul growth as much as humble helpfulness toward our neighbor.
There are nine definite steps in the Christian Mystic Initiation, commencing with the Baptism, which is dedicatory. The Annunciation and Immaculate Conception precede as matters of course for reasons given later. Having prepared our minds by the foregoing consideration, we are now ready to consider each stage separately in this glorious process of spiritual unfoldment.
THE ANNUNCIATION AND IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
The Christian Mystic is emphatically not the product of one life, but the flower of many preparatory existences, during which he has cultivated that sublime compassion which makes him feel the whole world's woe, and conjures up before his spiritual vision the Christ Ideal as the true balm of Gilead, its practice the only palladium against all human grief and sorrow. Such a soul is watched over special care by the divine Hierarchies who have charge of our progression along the path of evolution, and when the time is ripe for him to enter that life in which he is to run the final race to reach the goal and become a Savior of his kind, angels are indeed watching, waiting, and singing hosannas in joyful anticipation of the great event.
Like always seeks like, and naturally the parents are carefully selected for (and by such a noble soul from among the "sons and daughters of the King." They may be in the poorest circumstances from a worldly point of view; it may be necessary to cradle the babe in a manger, but no richer gift ever came to parents that such a noble soul. Among the qualifications necessary to be the parents of such an Ego is that the mother be a "virgin" and the father a "builder."
It is stated in the Bible that Joseph was a CARPENTER, but the Greek word is "tekton" which means "builder." In Mystic Masonry God is called the Grant Architect. ARCHE is the Greek word signifying primordial substance, and a tekton is a builder. Thus God is the Great Master Builder, who out of primordial substance fashioned the world as an evolutionary field for various grades of beings. He uses in His universe many tektons, or builders, of various grades. Everyone who follows the Path of spiritual attainment, endeavoring to work constructively with the laws of nature as a servant of humanity, is a TEKTON or builder in the sense that he has the qualifications necessary to aid in giving birth to a great soul. Thus when it is said that Jesus was a carpenter and the son of a carpenter, we understand that they were both TEKTONS or builders along cosmic lines.
The Immaculate Conception, like all other sublime mysteries, has been dragged down into the gutter of materiality, and being so sublimely spiritual it has perhaps suffered more by this rude treatment than any other of the spiritual teachings. Perhaps it has suffered even more from the clumsy explanation of ignorant supporters that from the jeers and sneers of the cynic. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, as popularly understood, is that about two thousand years ago God in a miraculous manner fertilized a certain Mary who was a virgin, as the result she gave birth to Jesus, an individual who is consequence was the Son of God in a sense different from all other men. There is also in the popular mind the idea that this incident is unique in the history of the world.
It is particularly the latter fallacy which has served to distort the beautiful spiritual truth concerning the Immaculate Conception. It is not unique in any sense. Every great soul who has been born into the world to live a life of sublime saintliness, such as required for the Christian Mystic Initiation, has also found entrance through of immaculate virginity who were not besmirched by passion in the performance of the generative act. Men do not gather grapes of thorns. It is an axiomatic truth that like begets like, and before anyone can become a Savior, he must himself be pure and sinless. He, being pure cannot take birth from one who is vile; HE MUST BE BORN OF VIRGIN PARENTS.
But the virginity to which we refer does not comprehend a merely physical condition. There is not inherent virtue in physical virginity, for all possess it at the beginning of life no matter how vile their disposition may be. The virginity of the mother of a Savior is a quality of the soul, which remains unsullied regardless of the physical act of fertilization. When people perform the first creative act without desire for offspring, merely for gratification of their animal lusts and propensities, they lose the only (physical) virginity they ever possessed; but when prospective parents unite in a spirit of prayer, offering their bodies upon the altar of sacrifice in order to provide an incoming soul with the physical body needed at the present time to further spiritual development, their purity of purpose preserves their virginity and draws a noble soul to their hearth and home. Whether a child is conceived in sin or immaculately depends upon its own inherent soul quality, for that will unerringly draw it to parents of a nature like unto its own. To become the son of a virgin predicates a past career of spirituality for the one who is so born.
The "mystic birth" of a "builder" is a cosmic event of great importance, and it is therefore not surprising that it is pictured in the skies from year to year, showing a graphic symbolism in the great world or macrocosm what will eventually take place in man, the little world or microcosm. We are all destined to experience the things that Jesus experienced, including the Immaculate Conception, which is a prerequisite to the life of saints and saviors of varying degrees. By understanding this great cosmic symbol we shall more easily understand its application to the individual human being. The sun is "THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD" in a material sense. When in winter time it reaches the extreme southern declination at the solstice on December 23rd, the people in the northern hemisphere, where all the present religions have had their birth, are plunged into the deepest darkness and bereft of the all-sustaining vital power emanating from the sun, which is them partly dead so far as its influence upon men in concerned. It is therefore necessary that a new light shine in the darkness, that a SUN OF GOOD be born to same humanity from the cold and famine which must inevitably result if the sun were to remain in the southern position which he occupies at the winter solstice.
On the night between the 24th and 25th of December, the sun having commenced to slowly rise toward the earth's equator, the zodiacal sign of Virgo, the immaculate celestial Virgin, is on the eastern horizon in all northern latitudes (in the hours immediately preceding midnight). In the science of astrology it is the sign and degree on the eastern horizon at the time of birth which determine the form or body of the creature then born. Therefore the Sun of Good is said to have been born of Virgo, the sublime celestial Virgin, who remains as pure after giving birth to her Sun Child as she was before. By analogy the Son of God who comes to save his fellow men must also be born of an immaculate spiritual virgin.
From what has been said it is evident that a great period of preparation precedes the entrance of a Christian Mystic into the present sphere of human life, though he in his physical consciousness is usually entirely unaware of the fact of the great adventure in store for him. In all probability his childhood days and early youth will pass in obscurity, while he lives an inner life of unusual depth, unconsciously preparing himself for the Baptism, which is the first of the nine steps of this method of attainment.
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