Concerning God And Religion 8
Part Eight: The Immediate Objective of the Craft (conclusion)
THE FIRST ACT: THE OPENING OF THE SEALS
The imagery here employed is that of a "book" written "inside" and "sealed at the back", which no one is worthy to open save the Lamb. In the larger sense this is the Book of Life, the Universe itself as the Temple of Initiation, in which the secrets of existence are hidden, being written within. Reality must therefore be sought for, by penetrating beneath the surface of things, even as man's power of spiritual response, too, lies below the level of normal awareness, and is awakened only by turning within:-
Truth is within ourselves. It takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe,
There is an inmost centre in ourselves
Where truth abides in fullness; and to know
Rather consists in finding out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape
Than by effecting entrance for a light
Supposed to be without."
(Paracelsus by Robert Browning.)
The book, then, also refers to man's own nature, which he must learn to know by sinking into himself and by studying the inwardness of his being. Again, applying the physiological key to the allegory, it will be seen that the book alludes to the human body, the spinal column "at the back" being the channel for a spiritual force at present "sealed" or dormant. In the worship of Osiris a frequent symbol and object of veneration was the TET-pillar, or tree-trunk, called "the backbone of Osiris." This holy pillar symbolised the sustaining power within the Universe, the word TET meaning "firmness," "stability", or "preservation." The following passage from the "Book of the Dead" relates to the awakening of the "sealed" spiritual force in the neophyte:-
"Rise up thou, O Osiris! Thou boast thy backbone, O Still Heart ... Thou hast the fastenings of thy neck and back, O Still Heart."
(Book of the Dead, chapter 155.)
In the scene which is enacted, the Lamb is hailed as "the Lion of the tribe of Juda" and the "root of David." As the Lion (Leo) he represents the Sun, symbolic of man's highest principle; as the "root of David" he signifies Divine Love, the source of all being, for the name David means "beloved", and the Biblical David is the type of the love element in man. According to the Kabalistic tradition the word ADAM, the collective name of humanity, is said to stand for Abraham, David and the Messiah, marking three stages in human spiritual evolution. Abraham typifies the first turning of the soul to God, the awakening desire for truth; David is the further progression, the sage of intermittent illumination, which is marked by alternating sin and repentance; the Messiah marks the stage of full illumination and final perfection, and as the Messiah traditionally appears according to prophecy from "the line of David," and is born in the "city of David", so does the Divine Power in man emerge as the result of the unfoldment of Divine Love within himself. Furthermore, the Lamb is here described as having the appearance of one that "had been slain" — (Revelation 5, verse 6), a reference again to a higher faculty in man which is dormant or "dead" until an inner awakening takes place. The seven horns and seven eyes symbolise spiritual powers and perceptions now active. Taking the "book" (i.e., acquiring control of the organism which is to be energised), the Lamb is acclaimed by the assembled beings, all representing different aspects and attributes of the aspirant's own nature, the ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" signifying the inexhaustible stream of worship and aspiration which is generated within himself.
The opening of the "seals" which follows proceeds in a certain significant sequence, and a further vivi piece of imagery is presented in the Horsemen that make their appearance with the opening of the seals. This unsealing of the "book" indicates the release of forces until now inhibited, forces of different quality symbolised by these figures, which on examination will be found to be simply the equivalents of the several animal symbols already mentioned. Swift and strong, intelligent and docile, the horse when mastered and kept under control becomes a faithful servant of man; hence from very ancient times it has been used as a symbol of the mind acting as vehicle of the spirit. In the Brahmanas it is written: "Whoever shall seek thee in the form of a white horse, shall find thee." It was as a horseman that the Buddha escaped to make the Great Renunciation, and his steed was said to have afterwards become a divinity. A white horse is an object of reverence in Chinese Buddhism, the tradition being that Buddhism was first brought to China by a white horse bearing the sacred books. Ever the conqueror goes forth upon a horse. Siegfried is given a horse by Brunhilde, and in the Greek myth the hero Bellerophon has the winged Pegasus bestowed on him by Athene. Elijah was taken up to heaven by fiery-horses.
The horsemen of the Apocalypse represent various forces inherent in the neophyte's own nature, stimulated to intenser activity by the energising power of the Spirit (the Lamb), who "opens the seals", i.e., awakens the centres and so liberates energy at every level. The first to appear is the White Horseman symbol of the Higher Mind; but as the highest is reflected in the lowest, and spiritual creative power in physical procreation, the White Horseman is here made to appear in association with the lowest centre of force. In his first entry he is identified with Sagittarius, the archer; his bow denotes destruction aimed at the element to be overcome; his crown is supremacy foretold, for he who is now beginning his work ultimately re-appears as the Conqueror of all. Next the Red Horseman appears. Red (passion) indicates the lower levels of the emotional life, and this is further illustrated by the rider's sword, the emblem of Mars, the god of war. As Mars governs Scorpio, so this horseman is associated with the solar plexus, and is therefore the equivalent of the red dragon, corresponding to the element of water. The forces liberated at this level cause evil tendency and desire to be outward turned, that it may be met and overcome, and at this stage power is given to "take peace from the earth" (Revelation 6, verse 4), for the conflict must be waged and ended during incarnation. The Black Horseman follows. He symbolises the lower mind, and is the equivalent of the Beast. His pair of scales identify him with Libra, the balance, associated with the region of the heart. The words, "A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley" (Revelation 6, verse 6), are a cryptic allusion to the poverty of the lower mind when unillumined by the Spirit, while the injunction to "hurt not the oil and the wine" is a further veiled reference to the lack of love (oil) and spiritual wisdom (wine) which distinguish the natural man. These qualities are gained through suffering and endeavour, and are the gradual fruitage of incarnation; hence the constant reference in Scripture to the oil-press and the wine-vat, symbols of the process of extracting from earth experiences the spiritual essence of Love-Wisdom. The last in order to appear is the Dun Horseman. This horseman is symbolic of the lowest division of man's nature; its twin riders are Death and Hell (the destructive elements of the physical and psychic planes), but they are shown to have the power to injure the outer sense-nature only which is "the fourth part an angle of ninety degrees, or the fourth part") of the complete "circle" of man's being.
With the opening of the fifth seal the allegory changes, and the seer declares: "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain"; these represent the brain centres, until now inert and dormant. Of them it is stated that they "should rest yet for a little season" (remain in a state of suspended activity) until "their brethren" (the centres within the body) are also awakened, although the symbolism of the giving of "white robes" denotes that light is already beginning to pulsate in the aura of the brain centres.
At the opening of the sixth seal evidence is directly given of the manifestation of spiritual force in operation, and this is appropriately described as a "great earthquake" which blots out all light of normal perception and paralyses thought and action on the lower planes. In the first verse of Chapter 7 a vision is recorded of four angels. As the guardians of the "four corners of the earth" these angels watch over the whole expanse of human life, as it manifests on the planes of phenomena. They are here represented as holding back the destroying element from the physical and emotional principles (earth and sea), and also preserving the results of mental activity (trees) until the "sealing" or initiation is completed. There rises then (verse 2) from the East, the place of Light, a fifth and dominating angel, who confers the seal of the Divine approval and acceptance upon the aspirant. The imprint of a mystic mark "in their foreheads" (verse 3) signifies the imparting of a sign or token (see also Ezekiel chapter 9, verse 4). This incident is related, by the doctrine of correspondences, to the "tribes of the children of Israel" (verse 4), and the "number of them which were sealed" is given as 144,000. Here the original twelve of Genesis is squared, symbolic of a raising to a higher plane of consciousness, the added cyphers serving to emphasise an advanced stage of unfoldment resulting in vastly expanded powers. It will be noted that one "tribe" of the original twelve, DAN, is omitted. This is because the prediction: "Dan shall be a serpent by the way" (Genesis 49, verse 17) is now fulfilled. The "serpent" is Scorpio, symbol of the creative force energising on the lowest plane; in the perfecting work the element represented by Scorpio (sex function) has to be entirely transmuted, and a transfer is therefore made to "the tribe of Joseph" (verse 8). This is also the reason, here and in all systems of Initiation, for the appearance of the extra-Zodiacal sign AQUILA (the Eagle), symbol of aspiration and spiritual power, in place of Scorpio. In this place, as in an earlier vision, there is a presentation of the Spiritual Self within, with its outward-turned faculties and powers on the three planes of manifestation. The white robes and palms are symbolic of purity attained.
Finally, the last of the seals, the seventh, is opened, after which there is "silence in heaven", for this centre is the pineal gland, where the senses merge and where all the nervous forces are focused. Hence here is found the equilibrium, and here is experienced that mystic silence which succeeds to the turmoil of life centred in the outer consciousness.
THE SECOND ACT: THE SOUNDING OF THE TRUMPETS
The high state of meditation indicated by the "silence in heaven" having been attained, the action of the drama proceeds with the energising of the seven centres within the brain. This awakening of the brain-centres is represented in the allegory as the sounding of successive trumpets. The trumpet, most powerful of wind instruments, has figured from very ancient times in religious ceremonial, and in the Bible it is frequently mentioned in connection with ritualistic practice. It had also a definite significance in the language of the Mystery-schools, To quote from the late W.Bro. W. L. Wilmshurst :-
It must be explained that the 'trumpet' and 'last trumpet' are technical terms among Initiates for the spiral, trumpet-shaped, whorls or vortices occurring in subtle matter under stresses, audible to those in whom the change occurs. The reference to the 'sound of the last trumpet' stands for a physiological experience as the last fine physical strands of the old nature are, as it were, snapped and the nervous system re-electrified. In the East this experience is called the 'end of the world', since for the Initiate it means the termination of his old worldly consciousness and its replacement by one of a much more vivid and intense quality." (The Masonic Initiation by W. L. WILMSHURST, footnote to page 76.)
In the scene which follows (Revelation, chapter 8), the aspiration of the neophyte (symbolised by clouds of incense) brings a response down into the physical vehicle ("the earth"), and this is experienced as an inward shock ("earthquake"). The imagery employed is intended to show that at each trumpet call the lower levels of the successive planes are transcended. With the third call there is also the "falling" of the star "called Wormwood" (verses 10 and 11) — "the gall of heaven"; the fourth call brings "darkness" (a sense of oppression) the fifth opens up the "bottomless pit" (symbol of the sub-conscious), revivifying evil desires and thoughts ("locusts"). The first to the fifth calls indicate the pain and affliction which must be endured by the emotional nature under discipline as the spiritual nature is unfolded. At the sixth call is heard the sound of a voice from "the golden altar"; this is the Higher Mind that speaks from its holy place, commanding the release of powers up to now inhibited. The army of "two hundred thousand thousand" represents the unlimited powers of the Spirit, while the lion-headed horses, accompanied with fire and smoke, indicate the solar energy available. Next is revealed the presence of the hithtor (chapter 11 verses 1 and 2), who bears in his hand "a little book open"; this is the Gnosis or secret wisdom to be imparted. The neophyte is instructed that "those things" are never to be written, but sealed up within the heart. He is further commanded to "take the little book" and "eat it up" (to receive and assimilate the wisdom), and is then raised to the prophetic office. Students are recommended to compare this episode with the passage in Ezekiel chapter 3, verses 1 to 4, in which the prophet is commanded to "eat" the scroll containing the words of the Lord. Before the seventh trumpet is sounded certain other trials await the aspirant, and the description of these is preceded by the cryptic command, "Rise, and measure the temple of God" (Revelation, chapter 11, verse 1).
It will be necessary to digress in order to explain the meaning of this allusion, and students are therefore reminded that the Biblical temple, like that of Freemasonry, is symbolic of man himself. The temple is an edifice modelled upon the "ground plan" of an earlier " tabernacle", which was itself erected after Divine instruction, "according to the pattern of things seen in the mount." In other words, the terms "tabernacle" and "temple" are used to denote stages in soul progression. The tabernacle being borne from place to place by Israel (collective humanity) in the "wilderness" symbolises the soul not yet having come into possession of its spiritual heritage, although being directed thereto by a divinely ordered discipline. At a later stage, when the Promised Land of further spiritual unfoldment is gained, a period of steadfastness and security during individualisation is entered upon. Thereafter, the founding of a kingdom under David and Solomon (Love and Wisdom) indicates the recognition by the soul of an Inner Ruler Divine, and the unified effort of the whole nature resulting from that supreme influence.
It is at this stage that the "temple" is built, signifying the establishment within the consciousness of the individual of an abiding sense of Divine guidance and protection. At yet a further stage, when the final perfecting of the individual is achieved, the temple itself is superseded ; with the mystic marriage of soul and spirit the Divine Indwelling is completely realised and At-onement attained, a consummation symbolised by the Holy City. In its various divisions the temple depicts the four-fold nature of man, as follows:-
1. THE OUTER COURT or COURT OF THE GENTILES: An open place of traffic in which certain preliminaries only to worship are transacted. This corresponds to the body, the outward-turned sense consciousness and the visible world.
2. THE INNER COURT: In which offerings are received, sacrifices made and purificatory rites undergone. This corresponds to the lower psychic and mental realms.
3. THE HOLY OF HOLIES: The "sacred shrine" into which the High Priest alone, and he only once a year, on the solemn Day of Atonement, is permitted entrance. This corresponds to the Higher Mind, the seat of the Spiritual Self in man, in which the office of High Priest is performed by the exalted consciousness, through which direct contact is set up between the outer and the inner. Thereby the hitherto impassable is bridged, the higher linked to the lower and a way of communication established. This is only possible in that "day" (light) of At-one-ment or conscious unification of soul with spirit.
4. THE ARK OF THE COVENANT: The mysterious prototype corresponding to man's highest principle-Pure Spirit (Atma).
The divisions of the Temple therefore symbolise the whole range of man's being — spiritual, intellectual, moral and physical — on all levels of consciousness. Of these four divisions, the outermost which is "given unto the Gentiles" (signifying sense dominion and materialism), must be entirely transcended in the process of perfecting. It is here declared (verse 2) that sense domination shall "tread the holy city underfoot for forty and two months"; the same length of time is also indicated in the following verse, for "a thousand two hundred and threescore days" (1,260) divided by thirty gives exactly forty-two months. This mystical period (given in other passages as three and a half years) alludes to the first half of the cycle of Initiation, which is represented as extending over seven stages.
During the period of conflict against the domination of the sense nature there are "two witnesses" that prophesy "clothed in sackcloth" (verse 3). These, elsewhere spoken of as the "two olive trees" and the "two candlesticks", refer to the positive and negative (Ida and Pingala) channels of the spiritual force of regeneration. The expression "clothed in sackcloth" is intended to convey the idea of the passage of impeded force. Just as men running a sack race are hampered, and can progress only with great difficulty, so is the spiritual force impeded during the first half of the period of initiation. Nevertheless, verse 5 makes it clear that if the force conveyed through these channels is wrongfully used it will work destructively; while verse 6 warns aspirants that if the force is prematurely aroused in the unpurified nature it may "smite the earth with all plagues" (bring manifold injuries upon the physical body), "have power over waters to turn them to blood" (arise in the emotional nature with passional excesses), and "shut heaven, that it rain not" (prevent the infiltration of truth from the higher mind). Those in whom the spiritual force remains dormant, are described as "dead bodies" (verse 8) "in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt." From the spiritual aspect the human body is "Sodom and Egypt" (corruption and oppression) to the Spirit (Lord), and the cryptic phrase" where also our Lord was crucified" (verse 8) is an allusion to what is known as the first crucifixion of spirit by descent into matter, the body becoming the cross. The second crucifixion (that portrayed in the Gospels) is, however, on the cross of initiation, and is on Calvary (from "Kranion"-a skull), signifying that the forces brought to bear in the higher stages of initiation are directly operative upon the brain centres. Prior to the sounding of the seventh trumpet the mystic trance is re-entered upon and a vision is obtained, with the sounding, of "the temple of God" (verse 19).
To understand this vision we must revert to the symbolism of the Temple. In the Biblical description the Ark of the Covenant, set within the Holy of Holies, is screened from view by the veil which hangs before the sanctuary. As at the crucifixion on Calvary (representing a high stage of initiation), this veil is rent from top to bottom, signifying the breaking-down within the consciousness of all sense of separateness, the merging of the individual life with the Universal, so now, too, at this point in the initiatory process, the temple is "opened" (all veils are withdrawn) and it is permitted to the neophyte to gaze upon the inmost and most sacred elements of his own being. What he is allowed to contemplate at this stage is nothing less than the most holy mystery of a Divine Conception taking place within himself, by which the God-man that he is to become is called into being. The spiritual forces now uniting in this creative work are presented to him by those symbols named in Scripture as "the pot of manna" and "Aaron's rod that budded." These have a dual meaning; as "line" and "circle" that symbolise the twin aspects of Deity in manifestation, energy and substance, the Father-Mother elements inherent in all life; at a higher level they are the elements of spirit and soul which combine in the process of regeneration. The "ark of his testament" is, then, the womb within the brain, where, by the action of its androgynous organs, a spiritual conception takes place and the Virgin Birth or "birth from above" is accomplished. This episode thus presents the mystic calling into being of a God-man, namely that "child of the woman" (the illumined soul) appearing in the following scene of the drama. The vision is accompanied by "lightnings, and voices, and thunderings" (solar forces manifesting as inner voices and spiritual illumination), while "an earthquake, and great hail" alludes to the immensely accelerated vibration of the aura set up thereby.
THE THIRD ACT: THE WAR IN HEAVEN
The third act presents the battle of the sky, which symbolises the casting out from the mind of all impure thoughts and unholy desire. The soul, having conceived within itself through the power of the Spirit and brought forth the Divine Child from the holiest recesses of its own being, is now presented as the "woman clothed with the sun" (chapter 12, verse I ).
In the Gospel story the birth of the Christ Child is followed by the persecution of Herod and the flight into Egypt, symbolising the treating of the new spiritual power in the outer world while allowing it to remain "hidden" that is, to work secretly and from within. Similarly, this Apocalyptic birth of the "child" (the God-consciousness) is followed by the appearance of the persecutor in the shape of "a great red dragon" (verse 3), threatening to devour and annihilate it. The battle in heaven that ensues is the war within the mind, by which fierce striving of the higher elements against the lower, the thought realm is purified. Michael is the great Guardian of the Underworld. His is the power which in normal humanly acts as the censor of the mind, the ever-vigilant psychic guardian that keeps destructive or harmful thought below the level of awareness, confining it within the depths of the sub-consciousness or mental underworld. At this stage, however, when all deep-lying evil has to be aroused and combatted, Michael appears as the warrior, a purifying power, in the strength of which the neophyte may face and overcome all the hitherto hidden and unrecognised elements of selfishness and impurity slumbering within him. The triumphant voice of the higher consciousness proclaims the victory attained (verse 10), and declares war upon "the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea" (verse 12), while to the "woman" are given "two wings of a great eagle" (aspiration and power of spiritual ascent).
Finally, there is pronounced the mysterious number of the Beast, 666, which has aroused such endless speculation. By geometric transcription this number may be shown to correspond to the Greek term HE PHREN, signifying the lower mind. The number 666 is one of a sequence, and for a fuller exposition of the subject students are referred to works on Greek number symbolism.
THE FOURTH ACT: THE HARVESTING
This act opens with a vision of a Lamb exalted. Aries, the ram or lamb, is associated with the crown of the head, the seat of the Higher Mind ("mount Sion" — chapter 14, verse 1). With the lamb are the 144,000, symbolising the faculties and attributes (twelve squared) of the neophyte raised to their highest powers of expression. Then follows a three-fold angelic song. The first strain of this celestial song proclaims the omnipotence of God the second brings the realisation within the self that the lower nature is now conquered ("Babylon is fallen") while the third embodies the repudiation of that lower nature in its aspect of the desire-mind ("the beast") with the conviction that its power is also overthrown.
Following this necessary introduction, the scene is changed to the harvesting of the earth and the vine. Corn (or Bread) and Wine enter into all the Mysteries. To quote again from the writings of the late W.Bro. W.L. Wilmshurst:-
"In their higher symbolism Corn (or Bread) and Wine relate to those of the Altar, and were Eucharistic elements in the Mysteries long before the Christian Master in a certain 'upper room' (or higher level of application) took over and gave a new application to the wheat of Ceres and the wine of Bacchus-Dionysos; while Oil, the crushed out and refined product of the olive, refers to that Wisdom which is the ultimate essence of experience and knowledge, and which has been associated, in the different Mystery teachings, with Minerva, with Solomon, and with the Mount of Olives.
"The spiritual Craftsman not only earns his own wages proportionately to his work; his own labours automatically supply them. God, as his employer, has already lodged them with him in advance; he has only to appropriate them as he becomes justly entitled to them by his own labours, as the sons of Jacob found their money restored to them in their corn-sacks.
"The Mason himself is likened to an ear of corn, nourished by a fall of the Water of Life. In virtue of the animal element in his nature he is himself 'the ox that treadeth out the corn', separating his own golden grain from the stalk that bore it. He is himself the 'threshing floor of Araunah', winnowing his own chaff from his own wheat. He treads his own wine-press alone; in singleness of effort and in the solitude of his own thought distilling his own vintage, until the cup of his mind runs over with the wine of a new order of intelligence. He is his own oil-press, and out of his own experience and self-realisation extracts wisdom — that oil which anoints him with a joy and an ability above his fellows, and that runs down to the 'skirts of his clothing', manifesting itself in his personality and in all his activities." (The Masonic Initiation, by W. L. Wilmshurst.)
Similarly the Apocalyptic harvesting denotes the separating by the aspirant of the life-essence from his mortal existence, and its offering up for the life of immortality. First comes the reaping of the "earth", the ingarnering of the fruit of physical plane life, in which sense-perception and consciousness outward-turned in action, have participated; that process being followed by the reaping of the "vine", fruitage of thought and feeling, the result of the psycho-spiritual life of endeavour. This harvest is drawn upon for the formation of the solar body, rightly described in the allegory as appearing "without the city" (verse 20), for it is now displayed as a wondrous aura surrounding the physical body and extending far beyond it. The number "a thousand and six hundred" given here may be rendered "SOMA HELIAKON", meaning "the body and the sun", while the "horse bridles," to which this measurement is extended (verse 20), are the centres through which the solar energy is directed.
The wine-press, the spiritual force by which this work is effected, is represented as the agent of the "wrath" of God. The word "wrath", however, might better be translated as the fire or energy or ardour of God, for it indicates a spiritual regenerative energy, re-creating while seeming to destroy.
THE FIFTH ACT: THE OUTPOURED VIALS
At the commencement of this act the neophyte is once more sunk in mystic meditation, his consciousness centred in the higher realms of the mind. The song of Moses here alluded to is that which followed upon the crossing by the Israelites of the Red Sea (Exodus, chapter 15, verses 1-19) in Biblical language this "crossing" is the symbol of regeneration. A comparison of the story of the Exodus "crossing-over" will reveal the same processes described in the Apocalyptic allegory, depicted with a different set of symbols. Moses, as Aries the ram (intellectual leader), is the victorious "lamb." The people that he leads out of bondage are the inhibited powers of the spirit gradually liberated. Babylon, in the same manner as the Egyptians, typifies the once dominating sense-nature, and the Red Sea and the Euphrates symbolise the realm of generation. Hence the river Euphrates, like the Red Sea, is "dried up" to permit the crossing over to a new order of being, while "the horse and his rider" drowned therein represent the sensuous energies and desires of physical plane existence.
Following upon the opening chorus seven successive woes or plagues are poured out, descriptive of a cleansing stream directed through the force-centres, that the aspirant may be purged of the last remaining vestiges of impurity. The first vial is poured upon the "earth", the lowest centre, and the seat of the pseudo-lamb or "false seer." The "sore" or "ulcer" appearing indicates the gradual eradication of sensuous thoughts impressed by the desire-mind ("the beast"); as the physical organism throws off disease and cleanses the system of poisonous matter by such method of eruption, so this psychic inflammation is meant to denote an analogous process of elimination of impure matter in the subtler body. The second vial is poured upon the "sea" (passional nature and seat of the dragon), eliminating from thence the last seeds of instinctual desire. The third vial is poured upon the "rivers and fountains of water" (emotions), with reaction upon the astral body. The fourth vial is poured out "upon the sun"; this is the life centre, located in the heart, and the "fire" (solar energy) here realised quickens the spiritual nature and inhibits all the forces which are not centred in that spiritual life. The God-consciousness now reigns supreme, and all that which partakes of the lesser life is represented as rebellious and unrepentant. The fifth vial is poured upon "the seat of the beast" (the solar plexus), which controls the sympathetic system, and is thereby linked with the desire-mind. The sixth vial is poured upon the river Euphrates (the spinal column, marking the central channel through which the vital currents flow). In the language of Scripture a river watering the land is ever symbolic of the Divine life flowing through humanity. The Jordan, "the river of God," always has this significance, and it will be recalled that other ancient religions have held certain rivers sacred, for example, the Nile, the Ganges, and the Indus. The seventh vial is poured into the "air" (the brain centres), and at this vital point the aspirant is made aware of his attainment.
It will be noted that the seventh outpouring is succeeded by storm and earthquake; this is a figure of speech used here to describe the intense sensation of shock which is set up by the increased vibratory action of the brain centres. At this stage Babylon is represented as vanquished and utterly overthrown.
THE SIXTH ACT: THE LAST JUDGEMENT
Heralding the final victory of the neophyte is the seventh and last chorus, with which this act is preceded. In this chorus the mystical "marriage" or Divine Union is foreshadowed, for the perfected soul is itself the "wife of the Lamb" now being "made ready." The scene therefore opens with the re-emergence of the White Horseman as Warrior, signifying that the full spiritual power of the aspirant is now directed towards the completion of the regenerative work. There follows upon his entry the Judgement episode. In all the religious traditions of the world, the Judgement of souls has occupied a foremost place, and the teachings concerning it range from the most crude conceptions to ideas of a deeply mystical and spiritual nature. The "books" opened here allude to the ineffaceable records imprinted in the memory, while the "other book", called "the book of life", is the Divine Wisdom, in the light of which all is seen and understood aright.
THE SEVENTH ACT: THE MYSTICAL MARRIAGE
In all the ancient Mystery systems a symbolic marriage is figured, signifying the union of soul with spirit, which is the sole purpose and goal of spiritual endeavour. Towards this consummation the whole process of human evolution is slowly progressing. The great saints and mystical exponents who have reached the highest stages of religious ecstasy speak of this experience also as Spiritual Marriage, an interior state of mystic contemplation in which a foretaste of Divine Union is granted, and in which the highest bliss possible to man, while yet in the body is entered upon.
Man, however, is the pilgrim of the ages, and for the complete understanding of the closing chapters of the Book of Revelation it is necessary to turn back to the first chapters of the Book of Genesis; the first and last Books of the Volume of the Sacred Law presenting in symbolic fashion the beginning and the end of the cycle of human evolution. In other words, as the myth of the Fall in Genesis is the story of Paradise Lost, so the Greater Initiation portrayed in Revelation is the symbolical figure of Paradise Regained. Throughout the myths and tradition generally, there recurs the concept of a Celestial and Immaculate Woman, who is often represented as the beloved and Bride of the aspirant. Among the many versions of this Celestial Woman are the Egyptian Isis, the Babylonian Ishtar, the Hebrew Shechinah, the Gnostic Sophia, and the Greek Aphrodite Ourania. In allusion to the remote and seemingly inaccessible perfection which she personifies, she is usually depicted as being heavily veiled, as in the case of Isis; and, like Isis and the Queen of Sheba, she is often held to be black of face, although comely beyond compare and utterly without defect. It is to this Immaculate Woman, as a personification both of Wisdom and of his own faculty of intuitive understanding, that the aspirant is fully and finally united in the last stage of his ascent; and in this union consists the "mystical marriage." In the Book of Revelation the Holy City is the sublimated form (now a spiritual body), the perfect expression of the purified soul, the "wedding garment" with which the Bride has been "made ready" for the mystic marriage.
The name ADAM has the numerical value of one hundred and forty-four, and this, the "measure of a man", is also the measurement of the city. The form, therefore, which in the beginning is the mortal sheath of human consciousness becomes at the final stage the Augoeides, the shining garment of immortality. The life ensouling the continuously changing form is the Woman; as Eve, she represents at the beginning, the soul caught in the enchantment of the phenomenal worlds; at the end she becomes the Celestial Woman, "clothed with the sun," received back in a glorified state to conscious union with the Spirit. There is further the re-appearance in the Apocalypse of the river of Genesis. The river of Eden which parted into four heads signifies the dispersal of energy to different levels of activity, and man as manifesting on the phenomenal planes as a four-fold being, whereas in the one river that flows through the Holy City there is signified, in contrast, the re-integrated consciousness of perfected man. He is in-drawn, made whole, unified, and for this reason in the Egyptian ritual the aspirant declares: "I have gathered myself together from the four quarters." The four cardinal points are mystically the four planes of consciousness: North-body, West-mind, South-soul, and East-spirit. Of the four rivers which went out of Eden it is the fourth, the Euphrates, its course turned "towards the east", which symbolises the spiritual element in man, and this is the river which alone is named in the Apocalypse. Moreover, in the centre of the Garden of Eden were two trees (the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil); in the Holy City one tree remains, the duality of mortal existence (good and evil) having been unified in the higher consciousness.
The twelve manner of fruits, one for each month of the year, are the matured powers and faculties of the Initiate, while the leaves "for the healing of the nations" symbolise the manifold outspreading of the spiritual life in beauty and service. Corresponding to the twelve fruits and bearing the same significance are the twelve gates of the City, associated with the tribes of Israel. At every gate there is a pearl. The pearl is found by diving into the sea, and is therefore the appropriate symbol of treasure earned, and qualities unfolded by the soul's immersion in the "water below." When the Master compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a pearl of great price, He indicated the nature and tribulations of the quest, and this is the reason why, in popular belief, pearls bring tears or sorrowful experience. The precious stones of which the City is built signify the rainbow colouring and brilliantly flashing fire of the aura. Subjectively, the Ring of Fire (symbolised by the Rainbow) is the plane of spiritual ecstasy, of the "mystical swoon" which is ritually represented in the third degree of Initiation by a simulated death, and which involves a complete oblivion of all the things of this world.
With this resplendent vision the drama is brought to its close. The Seer testifies that he has both heard and witnessed, and the command is given him. not to "seal" or withhold that which had been revealed, for it is to be preserved for all those who will hear with the voice of the Spirit, and who "doing the commandments" will themselves enter upon the way of Initiation. It is written: "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels", and this Proverb may well be commended to all Masonic students today. The immediate objective of the Craft is understanding and practising the Masonic system. In the attainment of this objective the members of this Study Circle can render valuable assistance.
SO MOTE IT BE