My Thoughts About Gospels Of Ebionites,Nazirenes & Mishna
My Thoughts About Gospels Of Ebionites,Nazirenes & Mishna
Jewish mysticism has taken many forms.
The Jewish mystical tradition is rich and diverse, and Jewish mysticism has taken many forms. Scholar Moshe Idel groups the different expressions of Jewish mysticism into two fundamental types: moderate and intensive. Moderate mysticism is intellectual in nature. It is an attempt to understand God and God’s world, and ultimately affect and change the divine realm. This type of mysticism incorporates many aspects of traditional Judaism, including Torah study and the performance of the commandments, infusing these activities with mystical significance. Intensive mysticism, on the other hand, is experiential in nature. Intensive mystics use nontraditional religious activities, including chanting and meditation, in an attempt to commune with God.
The first forms of Jewish mysticism emerged in the early centuries of the first millennium. Merkavah mysticism was the most common early form. Merkavah mystics aimed at understanding and experiencing the vision of the divine throne discussed in the first chapter of the biblical book of Ezekiel. Another form of early mysticism focused on exploring the mysterious methods that God used to create the world. Sefer Yetzirah, the most important work of creation mysticism, describes the creation of the world through the arrangements of letters and numbers.
Kabbalah is the most famous form of Jewish mysticism. It flowered in 13th century Spain with the writing of the Zohar, which was originally attributed to the 2nd century sage Shimon bar Yohai. The Zohar is a commentary on the Torah, concerned primarily with understanding the divine world and its relation to our world. According to kabbalah , God as God–also known as Ein Sof or “the Infinite”–cannot be comprehended by humans. However, God can be understood and described as revealed in ten mystical attributes, or sefirot.
Much of all future Kabbalah, including the important 16th-century Kabbalah of Isaac Luria–whose intricate theology of creation describes how God contracted to make room for the world–concerns itself with the sefirot. Abraham Abulafia was the most important of the medieval intensive mystics. He tried to achieve a state of prophecy through methods of experiential Kabbalah. Hasidism, a religious movement that emerged in the 18th century, spread mystical thinking and living to the masses of European Jewry by teaching that all people could have an experiential connection with God.
The New Age
Traditional mystical concepts permeate mainstream Jewish thought to this day (for example, the notions of tikkun ha-olam, or repair of the world, and of tzimtzum, God’s self-limiting), and texts of mystical origin have penetrated Jewish liturgy (including Lecha Dodi, the Friday night hymn welcoming the Sabbath, and other liturgical poetry). In addition, the academic study of Jewish mysticism has flourished in recent decades, due primarily to the work of a single scholar, Gershom Scholem. Scholem discovered and interpreted a wide range of mystical manuscripts and shed light on the origins and development of Jewish mysticism. With the emergence of New Age spirituality, Jewish mysticism has also experienced a popular renaissance. Jewish groups like the Renewal movement teach mysticism to spiritually inclined, nontraditional Jews, while controversial institutions such as the Kabbalah Centre offer a more universal and magical mysticism to Jews and non-Jews alike.
These supernatural beings appear widely throughout Jewish texts.
Angels are supernatural beings that appear widely throughout Jewish literature.
The Hebrew word for angel, mal’ach, means messenger, and the angels in early biblical sources deliver specific information or carry out some particular function. In the Torah, an angel prevents Abraham from slaughtering his son Isaac, appears to Moses in the burning bush and gives direction to the Israelites during the desert sojourn following the liberation from Egypt. In later biblical texts, angels are associated with visions and prophesies and are given proper names.
Later rabbinic and kabbalistic sources expand on the concept of angels even further, describing a broad universe of named angels with particular roles in the spiritual realm.
Angels in the Bible
Angels appear throughout the Bible. In their earliest appearances, they function as bearers of information. In Genesis, an angel appears to Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant, and informs her that she will bear a son whose descendants will be numerous. A similar encounter happens later with Sarah herself, when three visitors bring the news that she will give birth the following year. When Abraham sets out later to sacrifice that child, his son Isaac, it is an “angel of God” that cries out to him and instructs him not to harm the boy.
Among the most famous stories of angels in the Bible is the encounter between the patriarch Jacob and an angel with whom he wrestles all night. In the morning, when Jacob asks his adversary to identify himself, the angel admonishes him not to ask. Afterwards, Jacob names the place P’niel — literally “face of God.” In explaining this choice, the Torah makes plain that the wrestling adversary was an emissary of God: “I have seen a divine being face to face, yet my life has been preserved.”
In the books of the prophets, angels continue to carry out their function as messengers, but they are also associated with visions and prophecies. One particularly detailed account is recorded in the first chapter of Ezekiel. The prophet encounters four creatures (chayot in Hebrew) that resemble human beings, but each has four faces (human, lion, ox and eagle), four wings and their legs are fused into a single leg. A parallel vision is recorded in the 10th chapter, only there the angels are described as cherubs.
Not all the angelic figures in the Bible are identified as such. The three visitors who came to Abraham and Sarah are described in the text as “anashim,” or men, though rabbinic sources indicate they were angels . Likewise, the angel that appeared to Jacob is described merely as “ish,” or man. When biblical angels are asked to identify themselves, they refuse. In the Book of Judges, Manoah, the father of Samson, asks the name of an angel who had prophesied a child for his barren wife. The angel declines, saying his name is unknowable. The Book of Daniel is the first time in the Bible where named angels appear: Gabriel and Michael.
Angels in Early Rabbinic Literature
Rabbinic literature expounds significantly on the nature of angels and their roles in biblical stories. The Midrash identifies Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael as the four chief angels who surround the divine throne, each of whom has particular attributes. The Talmud identifies Michael, Gabriel and Raphael as the three angels who visited Abraham to deliver the news that his wife will bear a son. Though the Bible records that the men ate a meal that Abraham had prepared for them, the rabbis stipulate that the trio only appeared to eat — since, being angels, they are not physical beings, but merely resemble them.
The Midrash includes many fanciful portrayals of angels. According to one source, Michael is made entirely of snow and Gabriel entirely of fire, but despite their proximity they don’t harm one another — a symbol of God’s power to make peace in his lofty heights. Multiple midrashic sources identify Michael as the heavenly defender of Israel at odds with the demon Sama’el. And another Midrash describes a debate among the angels over whether human beings should be created. In this debate, the angel of love is in favor of creating humans, because of the human capacity for expressing love, but the angel of truth disagrees, fearing that humans will be prone to falsehoods. In support of creating humans, God shows the angels examples of righteous people from the Bible, but the angel of earth rebels and denies the angel Gabriel the dust he needs for the creation of people, fearing that humans would wreak devastation on the earth. The angel of Torah argues against human creation too, contending that people should not be created because they will suffer.
The Talmud records a teaching that two ministering angels — one good and one evil — accompany a person home from synagogue on Shabbat evening. If they find the person’s home prepared for Shabbat, the good angel declares: “May it be Your will that it shall be like this for another Shabbat.” And the evil angel answers against his will: “Amen.” If the home is not prepared, the reverse happens: The evil angel voices a wish for it to be this way for another week and the good angel responds “Amen.”
Shalom Aleichem, a liturgical song welcoming angels into the home before the Sabbath meal, is inspired by this teaching.
As in the Midrash, angels in the Talmud occasionally argue with God, affording them a degree of independent agency that complicates the notion of angels as mere messengers carrying out divine objectives. The rabbis of the Talmud may have been concerned that angels would become the objects of worship in and of themselves, a concern that some understand to be behind various talmudic texts indicating that righteous people can equal or even surpass the holiness of angels. In Tractate Sanhedrin, the Talmud states that righteous people are greater than the ministering angels.
Maimonides’ Angelic Hierarchy
Maimonides, the 12th-century scholar, devotes a section of his Mishneh Torah to the nature of angels. They are incorporeal beings, he writes, possessing form but no substance. Descriptions of angels as winged or made of fire, Maimonides says, are merely “enigmatical” prophetic visions — that is, inevitably inadequate attempts to describe the formless and the spiritual within the confines of human language.
Maimonides describes a 10-level hierarchy of angels, with different types such as holy creatures (chayot hakodesh) flying serpents and chariot bearers. All of these forms are alive and know God intimately, Maimonides writes, but while they all know God more deeply than human beings do, even the highest among them, knowing more than all those below, cannot know the full truth of God.
Angels in Kabbalah
The Jewish mystical tradition expounds even further on the nature of angels. Kabbalistic sources portray angels as forces of spiritual energy. Rabbi David Cooper, who has written extensively about Kabbalah and Jewish meditation, has described angels as “invisible metaphysical energy bundles” that act like magnets, causing physical changes by means of forces that are invisible to the eye.
In Kabbalah, angels reside in the worlds of beriah (creation) and yetzirah (formation) — the middle two of Kabbalah’s four worlds, which represent the spiritual stages through which divine energy is conducted down to the material world. In his classic work on Kabbalah, The Thirteen Petalled Rose, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes that human behavior can create angels. In a counterpart to the way biblical angels bear messages from the divine realm down to humanity, the angels created by human actions carry the energies of humankind upwards into the higher spiritual realms.
Angels are singular and unchanging in their essences, Steinsaltz writes, and can be either good or evil (demons), the latter the product of human beings doing the opposite of a mitzvah — harboring evil thoughts or committing acts of wickedness. Like good angels, evil angels also act in a dual fashion — bringing evil from the spiritual to the material world by inspiring sin or causing suffering and punishment, while also receiving energy from the misdeeds of human beings. “To be sure, were the world to root out all evil completely, then as a matter of course the subversive angels would disappear, since they exist as permanent parasites living on man,” Steinsaltz writes. “But as long as man chooses evil, he supports and nurtures whole worlds and mansions of evil, all of them drawing upon the same human sickness of soul.”
Mysticism teaches that by a simple act of devotion, human consciousness may be elevated to momentary union with divine consciousness, and that this union bestows an inner strength which surpasseth understanding. This strength, which can be experienced but not explained, is the presence of God known in a mystery. ~Manly P. Hall
It might be well to introduce this subject with a brief summary of the concept of prayer, as this practice is to be found in the principal religions of mankind. A prayer is a formula of supplication, adoration, confession, or thanksgiving addressed to God, either directly or through intermediary powers, by an individual or a congregation. The words used may be fixed by traditional usage or may be completely informal, according to the mood or need of the supplicant. In either case, the words themselves must be spoken with the deepest sincerity and the fullest realization of the sacredness of the action.
Prayers of ancient nations are recorded upon surviving monuments, especially those pertaining to mortuary rites or public offerings in honor of remarkable events. Such prayers are similar to those in use today, and there has been very little change in the structure of prayer-formulas since the earliest recorded examples. Most of the temples dedicated to the superior deities preserved formulas for addressing the gods through petition or as an act of homage. Usually, the older prayers were less personal and more devotional and were part of an elaborate ritualism. The private citizen seldom addressed personal petitions to the divinities except in an extreme emergency.
Those mortals who felt that they had received some special evidence of divine intercession often brought to the temples gifts of real or sentimental value, and these presents were inscribed with appropriate words of appreciation. Inscriptions of this kind frequently took the form of testimonials. They were simple statements of the facts involved, the divine assistance rendered, and the gratitude of the recipient. In the larger shrines, these testimonials formed an impressive collection evidencing the benevolences of the deity.
Nearly all primitive religious worship included means for attracting the attention of superhuman beings or even the spirits or ghosts of illustrious mortals. Songs, dances, sacrifices of all kinds, rites, and ceremonies were performed so that the needs of the people might be more immediately known to the heavenly powers, or to acquaint evil or malicious entities with the sincerity and faithfulness of the people. The various demons would be unable to work their evil spells upon the tribe if the members thereof called upon good and all-powerful spiritual guardians. While the public mind has changed considerably in recent centuries, the prayer-formulas still in use retain most of the elements of the old spiritism in word if not in concept.
Since the Protestant Reformation, the practice of private prayer has increased among Christian nations. The ritualistic forms of the old church have been modified, and prayer has become an experience of intimate communion. Although some churches have maintained the form of congregational petition, the individual members of the church are invited to seek spiritual security, especially in time of stress, through the act of private prayer. Form and word are less important than the genuine statement of faith made either audibly or silently, and it is assumed that Deity, ever-mindful of the needs of his children, will be attentive to all honorable and honest petitions.
It is well known that philosophers and scholars not given to the acceptance of theological forms have practiced the act of prayer and recommended it to their followers and disciples. The transition between prayer as a ritual and prayer as a mystical experience has been accomplished gradually as the result of the increasing emphasis upon religion as a personal search for truth. Mysticism teaches that by a simple act of devotion, human consciousness may be elevated to momentary union with divine consciousness, and that this union bestows an inner strength which surpasseth understanding. This strength, which can be experienced but not explained, is the presence of God known in a mystery.
As the result of the mingling of tradition and instinct in the human soul, the impulse to seek solace in prayer is widespread even among those who are not nominally religious. This is clearly revealed in times of public disaster, war, and other general catastrophes. The human being is most aware of his own limitations when his character is subjected to special strain. When insufficient to his own needs, he is impelled to seek a larger source of security. It requires but slight consideration for him to realize that faith has brought courage and fortitude to other persons whom he has known, admired, and loved. Early religious indoctrination and association intensify the resolution, and the mind easily accepts the persuasions bestowed by impulse. There are very few who choose to walk dark and dangerous paths alone, and as the way becomes more hazardous, the benefits of spiritual communion become more evident.
Few modern institutions have escaped materialistic pressures, and the churches are confronted with decisions that require genuine dedication to truth. The act of prayer is too often involved in the gratification of personal and physical ambitions. The modern believer prays more for prosperity in this world than for security in the world to come. He is more concerned with the increase of his goods than with the increase of the good within himself. Several denominations have hit upon the idea that prayer is a magical force by which selfish members can advance their various fortunes by enlisting divine aid. God is called upon to intercede in real estate transactions, the fluctuations of the stock exchange, and in an assortment of personal trivia. Instead of approaching Divinity with songs of praise and thanksgiving, the prevailing tendency is to bombard heaven with requirements and demands. In many cases, we ask for that which we have neither the resolution nor the patience to earn by legitimate means. To the degree that prayer becomes a substitute for common intelligence and natural industry, the act of prayerfulness is mutilated and profaned.
Cabalistic Keys to the Lord’s Prayer
~ Manly P. Hall
THE true story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth has never been unfolded to the world, either in the accepted Gospels or in the Apocrypha, although a few stray hints may be found in some of the commentaries written by the ante-Nicene Fathers. The facts concerning His identity and mission are among the priceless mysteries preserved to this day in the secret vaults beneath the “Houses of the Brethren.” To a few of the Knights Templar, who were initiated into the arcana of the Druses, Nazarenes, Essenes, Johannites, and other sects still inhabiting the remote and inaccessible fastnesses of the Holy Land, part of the strange story was told. The knowledge of the Templars concerning the early history of Christianity was undoubtedly one of the main reasons for their persecution and final annihilation. The discrepancies in the writings of the early Church Fathers not only are irreconcilable, but demonstrate beyond question that even during the first five centuries after Christ these learned men had for the basis of their writings little more substantial than folklore and hearsay. To the easy believer everything is possible and there are no problems. The unemotional person in search of facts, however, is confronted by a host of problems with uncertain factors, of which the following are typical:According to popular conception, Jesus was crucified during the thirty-third year of His life and in the third year of His ministry following His baptism. About A.D. 180, St. IrenÃ¦us, Bishop of Lyons, one of the most eminent of the ante-Nicene theologians, wrote Against Heresies, an attack on the doctrines of the Gnostics. In this work IrenÃ¦us declared upon the authority of the Apostles themselves that Jesus lived to old age. To quote: “They, however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, ‘to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,’ maintain that He preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. [In speaking thus], they are forgetful of their own disadvantage, destroying His whole work, and robbing Him of that age which is both more necessary and more honorable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher He excelled all others. For how could He have had His disciples, if He did not teach? And how could He have taught, unless He had reached the age of a Master? For when He came to be baptized, He had not yet completed His thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age; and He preached only one year reckoning from His baptism. On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onward to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which Our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained among them up to the time of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or PtolemÃ¦us, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?”
Commenting on the foregoing passage, Godfrey Higgins remarks that it has fortunately escaped the hands of those destroyers who have attempted to render the Gospel narratives consistent by deleting all such statements. He also notes that the doctrine of the crucifixion was a vexata questio among Christians even during the second century. “The evidence of IrenÃ¦us,” he says, “cannot be touched. On every principle of sound criticism, and of the doctrine of probabilities, it is unimpeachable.”
It should further be noted that IrenÃ¦us prepared this statement to contradict another apparently current in his time to the effect that the ministry of Jesus lasted but one year. Of all the early Fathers, IrenÃ¦us, writing within eighty years after the death of St. John the Evangelist, should have had reasonably accurate information. If the disciples themselves related that Jesus lived to advanced age in the body, why has the mysterious number 33 been arbitrarily chosen to symbolize the duration of His life? Were the incidents in the life of Jesus purposely altered so that His actions would fit more closely into the pattern established by the numerous Savior-Gods who preceded Him? That these analogies were recognized and used as a leverage in converting the Greeks and Romans is evident from a perusal of the writings of Justin Martyr, another second-century authority. In his Apology, Justin addresses the pagans thus:
“And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, Our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic word of God. But if any one objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now enumerated.”
From this it is evident that the first missionaries of the Christian Church were far more willing to admit the similarities between their faith and the faiths of the pagans than were their successors in later centuries.
In an effort to solve some of the problems arising from any attempt to chronicle accurately the life of Jesus, it has been suggested that there may have lived in Syria at that time two or more religious teachers bearing the name Jesus, Jehoshua or Joshua, and that the lives of these men may have been confused in the Gospel stories. In his Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Bernard H. Springett, a Masonic author, quotes from an early book, the name of which he was not at liberty to disclose because of its connection with the ritual of a sect. The last part of his quotation is germane to the subject at hand:
“But Jehovah prospered the seed of the Essenians, in holiness and love, for many generations. Then came the chief of the angels, according to the commandment of GOD, to raise up an heir to the Voice of Jehovah. And, in four generations more, an heir was born, and named Joshua, and he was the child of Joseph and Mara, devout worshippers of Jehovah, who stood aloof from all other people save the Essenians. And this Joshua, in Nazareth, reestablished Jehovah, and restored many of the lost rites and ceremonies. In the thirty-sixth year of his age he was stoned to death in Jerusalem”.
Within the last century several books have been published to supplement the meager descriptions in the Gospels of Jesus and His ministry. In some instances these narratives claim to be founded upon early manuscripts recently discovered; in others, upon direct spiritual revelation. Some of these writings are highly plausible, while others are incredible. There are persistent rumors that Jesus visited and studied in both Greece and India, and that a coin struck in His honor in India during the first century has been discovered. Early Christian records are known to exist in Tibet, and the monks of a Buddhist monastery in Ceylon still preserve a record which indicates that Jesus sojourned with them and became conversant with their philosophy.
Although early Christianity shows every evidence of Oriental influence, this is a subject the modern church declines to discuss. If it is ever established beyond question that Jesus was an initiate of the pagan Greek or Asiatic Mysteries, the effect upon the more conservative members of the Christian faith is likely to be cataclysmic. If Jesus was God incarnate, as the solemn councils of the church discovered, why is He referred to in the New Testament as “called of God an high prim after the order of Melchizedek”? The words “after the order” make Jesus one of a line or order of which there must have been others of equal or even superior dignity. If the “Melchizedeks” were the divine or priestly rulers of the nations of the earth before the inauguration of the system of temporal rulers, then the statements attributed to St. Paul would indicate that Jesus either was one of these “philosophic elect” or was attempting to reestablish their system of government. It will be remembered that Melchizedek also performed the same ceremony of the drinking of wine and the breaking of bread as did Jesus at the Last Supper.
George Faber declares the original name of Jesus was Jescua Hammassiah. Godfrey Higgins has discovered two references, one in the Midrashjoholeth and the other in the Abodazara, to the effect that the surname of Joseph’s family was Panther, for in both of these works it is stated that a man was healed “in the name of Jesus ben Panther.” The name Panther establishes a direct connection between Jesus and Bacchus–who was nursed by panthers and is sometimes depicted riding either on one of these animals or in a chariot drawn by them. The skin of the panther was also sacred in certain of the Egyptian initiatory ceremonials. The monogram IHS, now interpreted to mean Iesus Hominum Salvator, is another direct link between the Christian and the Bacchic rites. IHS is derived from the Greek Î¥Î—Î£, which, as its numerical value signifies, is emblematic of the sun and constituted the sacred and concealed name of Bacchus. The question arises, Was early Roman Christianity confused with the worship of Bacchus because of the numerous parallelisms in the two faiths? If the affirmative can be proved, many hitherto incomprehensible enigmas of the New Testament will be solved.
It is by no means improbable that Jesus Himself originally propounded as allegories the cosmic activities which were later confused with His own life. That the Christos, represents the solar power reverenced by every nation of antiquity cannot be denied. If Jesus revealed the nature and purpose of this solar power under the name and personality of Christos, thereby giving to this abstract power the attributes of a god-man, He but followed a precedent set by all previous World-Teachers. This god-man, thus endowed with all the qualities of Deity, signifies the latent divinity in every man. Mortal man achieves deification only through at-one-ment with this divine Self. Union with the immortal Self constitutes immortality, and he who finds his true Self is therefore “saved.” This Christos, or divine man in man, is man’s real hope of salvation–the living Mediator between abstract Deity and mortal humankind. As Atys, Adonis, Bacchus, and Orpheus in all likelihood were originally illumined men who later were confused with the symbolic personages whom they created as personifications of this divine power, so Jesus has been confused with the Christos, or god-man, whose wonders He preached. Since the Christos was the god-man imprisoned in every creature, it was the first duty of the initiate to liberate, or “resurrect, ” this Eternal One within himself. He who attained reunion with his Christos was consequently termed a Christian, or Christened, man.
One of the most profound doctrines of the pagan philosophers concerned the Universal Savior-God who lifted the souls of regenerated men to heaven through His own nature. This concept was unquestionably the inspiration for the words attributed to Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” In an effort to make a single person out of Jesus and His Christos, Christian writers have patched together a doctrine which must be resolved back into its original constituents if the true meaning of Christianity is to be rediscovered. In the Gospel narratives the Christos represents the perfect man who, having passed through the various stages of the “World Mystery” symbolized by the thirty-three years, ascends to the heaven sphere where he is reunited with his Eternal Father. The story of Jesus as now preserved is–like the Masonic story of Hiram Abiff–part of a secret initiatory ritualism belonging to the early Christian and pagan Mysteries.
During the centuries just prior to the Christian Era, the secrets of the pagan Mysteries had gradually fallen into the hands of the profane. To the student of comparative religion it is evident that these secrets, gathered by a small group of faithful philosophers and mystics, were reclothed in new symbolical garments and thus preserved for several centuries under the name of Mystic Christianity. It is generally supposed that the Essenes were the custodians of this knowledge and also the initiators and educators of Jesus. If so, Jesus was undoubtedly initiated in the same temple of Melchizedek where Pythagoras had studied six centuries before.
The Essenes–the most prominent of the early Syrian sects–were an order of pious men and women who lived lives of asceticism, spending their days in simple labor and their evenings in prayer. Josephus, the great Jewish historian, speaks of them in the highest terms. “They teach the immortality of the soul,” he says, “and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for.” In another place he adds, “Yet is their course of life better than that of other men and they entirely addict themselves to husbandry. ” The name Essenes is supposed to be derived from an ancient Syrian word meaning “physician,” and these kindly folk are believed to have held as their purpose of existence the healing of the sick in mind, soul, and body. According to Edouard SchurÃ©, they had two principal communities, or centers, one in Egypt on the banks of Lake Maoris, the other in Palestine at Engaddi, near the Dead Sea. Some authorities trace the Essenes back to the schools of Samuel the Prophet, but most agree on either an Egyptian or Oriental origin. Their methods of prayer, meditation, and fasting were not unlike those of the holy men of the Far East. Membership in the Essene Order was possible only after a year of probation. This Mystery school, like so many others, had three degrees, and only a few candidates passed successfully through all. The Essenes were divided into two distinct communities, one consisting of celibates and the other of members who were married.
The Essenes never became merchants or entered into the commercial life of cities, but maintained themselves by agriculture and the raising of sheep for wool; also by such crafts as pottery and carpentry. In the Gospels and Apocrypha, Joseph, the father of Jesus, is referred to as both a carpenter and a potter. In the Apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and also that of Pseudo-Matthew, the child Jesus is described as making sparrows out of clay which came to life and flew away when he clapped his hands. The Essenes were regarded as among the better educated class of Jews and there are accounts of their having been chosen as tutors for the children of Roman officers stationed in Syria. The fact that so many artificers were listed among their number is responsible for the order’s being considered as a progenitor of modern Freemasonry. The symbols of the Essenes include a number of builders’ tools, and they were secretly engaged in the erection of a spiritual and philosophical temple to serve as a dwelling place for the living God.
Like the Gnostics, the Essenes were emanationists. One of their chief objects was the reinterpretation of the Mosaic Law according to certain secret spiritual keys preserved by them from the time of the founding of their order. It would thus follow that the Essenes were Qabbalists and, like several other contemporary sects flourishing in Syria, were awaiting the advent of the Messiah promised in the early Biblical writings. Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, are believed to have been members of the Essene Order. Joseph was many years the senior of Mary. According to The Protevangelium, he was a widower with grown sons, and in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew he refers to Mary as a little child less in age than his own grandchildren. In her infancy Mary was dedicated to the Lord, and the Apocryphal writings contain many accounts of miracles associated with her early childhood. When she was twelve years old, the priests held counsel as to the future of this child who had dedicated herself to the Lord, and the Jewish high priest, bearing the breastplate, entered into the Holy of Holies, where an angel appeared to him, saying, “Zacharias, go forth and summon the widowers of the people and let them take a rod apiece and she shall be the wife of him to whom the Lord shall show a sign.” Going forth to meet the priests at the head of the widowers, Joseph collected the rods of all the other men and gave them into the keeping of the priests. Now Joseph’s rod was but half as long as the others, and the priests on returning the rods to the widowers paid no attention to Joseph’s but left it behind in the Holy of Holies. When all the other widowers had received back their wands, the priests awaited a sign from heaven, but none came. Joseph, because of his advanced age, did not: ask for the return of his rod, for to him it was inconceivable that he should be chosen. But an angel appeared to the high priest, ordering him to give back the short rod which lay unnoticed in the Holy of Holies. As the high priest handed the rod to Joseph, a white dove flew from the end of it and rested upon the head of the aged carpenter, and to him was given the child.
The editor of The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East calls attention to the peculiar spirit with which the childhood of Jesus is treated in most of the Apocryphal books of the New Testament, particularly in one work attributed to the doubting Thomas, the earliest known Greek version of which dates from about A.D. 200: “The child Christ is represented almost as an imp, cursing and destroying those who annoy him.” This Apocryphal work, calculated to inspire its readers with fear and trembling, was popular during the Middle Ages because it was in full accord with the cruel and persecuting spirit of medieval Christianity. Like many other early sacred books, the book of Thomas was fabricated for two closely allied purposes: first, to outshine the pagans in miracle working; second, to inspire all unbelievers with the “fear of the Lord.” Apocryphal writings of this sort have no possible basis in fact. At one time an asset, the “miracles” of Christianity have become its greatest liability. Supernatural phenomena, in a credulous age interpolated to impress the ignorant, in this century have only achieved the alienation of the intelligent.
In The Greek Gospel of Nicodemus it is declared that when Jesus was brought into the presence of Pilate the standards borne by the Roman guards bowed their tops in homage to him in spite of every effort made by the soldiers to prevent it. In The Letters of Pilate the statement also appears that Caesar, being wroth at Pilate for executing a just man, ordered him to be decapitated. Praying for forgiveness, Pilate was visited by an angel of the Lord, who reassured the Roman governor by promising him that all Christendom should remember his name and that when Christ came the second time to judge His people he should come before Him as His witness.
Stories like the foregoing represent the incrustations that have attached themselves to the body of Christianity during the centuries. The popular mind itself has been the self-appointed guardian and perpetuator of these legends, bitterly opposing every effort to divest the faith of these questionable accumulations. While popular tradition often contains certain basic elements of truth, these elements are usually distorted out of all proportion. Thus, while the generalities of the story may be fundamentally true, the details are hopelessly erroneous. Of truth as of beauty it may be said that it is most adorned when unadorned. Through the mist of fantastic accounts which obscure the true foundation of the Christian faith is faintly visible to the discerning few a great and noble doctrine communicated to the world by a great and noble soul. Joseph and Mary, two devout and holy-minded souls, consecrated to the service of God and dreaming of the coming of a Messiah to serve Israel, obeyed the injunctions of the high priest of the Essenes to prepare a body for the coming of a great soul. Thus of an immaculate conception Jesus was born. By immaculate is meant clean, rather than supernatural.
Jesus was reared and educated by the Essenes and later initiated into the most profound of their Mysteries. Like all great initiates, He must travel in an easterly direction, and the silent years of His life no doubt were spent in familiarizing Himself with that secret teaching later to be communicated by Him to the world. Having consummated the ascetic practices of His order, He attained to the Christening. Having thus reunited Himself with His own spiritual source, He then went forth in the name of the One who has been crucified since before the worlds were and, gathering about Him disciples and apostles, He instructed them in that secret teaching which had been lost–in part, at least–from the doctrines of Israel. His fate is unknown, but in all probability He suffered that persecution which is the lot of those who seek to reconstruct the ethical, philosophical, or religious systems of their day.
To the multitudes Jesus spoke in parables; to His disciples He also spoke in parables, though of a more exalted and philosophic nature. Voltaire said that Plato should have been canonized by the Christian Church, for, being the first proponent of the Christos mystery, he contributed more to its fundamental doctrines than any other single individual. Jesus disclosed to His disciples that the lower world is under the control of a great spiritual being which had fashioned it according to the will of the Eternal Father. The mind of this great angel was both the mind of the world and also the worldly mind. So that men should not die of worldliness the Eternal Father sent unto creation the eldest and most exalted of His powers–the Divine Mind. This Divine Mind offered Itself as a living sacrifice and was broken up and eaten by the world. Having given Its spirit and Its body at a secret and sacred supper to the twelve manners of rational creatures, this Divine Mind became a part of every living thing. Man was thereby enabled to use this power as a bridge across which he might pass and attain immortality. He who lifted up his soul to this Divine Mind and served It was righteous and, having attained righteousness, liberated this Divine Mind, which thereupon returned again in glory to Its own divine source. And because He had brought to them this knowledge, the disciples said one to another: “Lo, He is Himself this Mind personified!”
THE ARTHURIAN CYCLE AND LEGEND OF THE HOLY GRAIL
According to legend, the body of the Christos was given into the keeping of two men, of whom the Gospels make but brief mention. These were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, both devout men who, though not listed among the disciples or apostles of the Christos, were of all men chosen to be custodians of His sacred remains. Joseph of Arimathea was one of the initiated brethren and is called by A. E. Waite, in his A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, “the first bishop of Christendom.” just as the temporal power of the Holy See was established by St. Peter, so the spiritual body of the faith was entrusted to the “Secret Church of the Holy Grail” through apostolic succession from Joseph of Arimathea, into whose keeping had been given the perpetual symbols of the covenant–the ever-flowing cup and the bleeding spear.
Presumably obeying instructions of St. Philip, Joseph of Arimathea, carrying the sacred relics, reached Britain after passing through many and varied hardships. Here a site was allotted to him for the erection of a church, and in this manner Glastonbury Abbey was founded. Joseph planted his staff in the earth and it took root, becoming a miraculous thorn bush which blossomed twice a year and which is now called the Glastonbury thorn. The end of the life of Joseph of Arimathea is unknown. By some it is believed that, like Enoch, he was translated; by others, that he was buried in Glastonbury Abbey. Repeated attempts have been made to find the Holy Grail, which many believe to have been hidden in a crypt beneath the ancient abbey. The Glastonbury chalice recently discovered and by the devout supposed to be the original Sang real can scarcely be accepted as genuine by the critical investigator. Beyond its inherent interest as a relic, like the famous Antioch chalice it actually proves nothing when it is realized that practically little more was known about the Christian Mysteries eighteen centuries ago than can be discovered today.
The origin of the Grail myth, as of nearly every other element in the great drama, is curiously elusive. Sufficient foundation for it may be found in the folklore of the British Isles, which contains many accounts of magic cauldrons, kettles, cups, and drinking horns. The earliest Grail legends describe the cup as a veritable horn of plenty. Its contents were inexhaustible and those who served it never hungered or thirsted. One account states that no matter how desperately ill a person might be he could not die within eight days of beholding the cup. Some authorities believe the Holy Grail to be the perpetuation of the holy cup used in the rites of Adonis and Atys. A communion cup or chalice was used in several of the ancient Mysteries, and the god Bacchus is frequently symbolized in the form of a vase, cup, or urn. In Nature worship the ever-flowing Grail signifies the bounty of the harvest by which the life of man is sustained; like Mercury’s bottomless pitcher, it is the inexhaustible fountain of natural re source. From the evidence at hand it would indeed be erroneous to ascribe a purely Christian origin to the Grail symbolism.
In the Arthurian Cycle appears a strange and mysterious figure–Merlin, the magician. In one of the legends concerning him it is declared that when Jesus was sent to liberate the world from the bondage of evil, the Adversary determined to send an Antichrist to undo His labors. The Devil therefore in the form of a horrible dragon overshadowed a young woman who had taken refuge in sanctuary to escape the evil which had destroyed her family. When Merlin, her child, was born he partook of the characteristics of his human mother and demon father. Merlin, however, did not serve the powers of darkness but, being converted to the true light, retained only two of the supernatural powers inherited from his father: prophecy and miracle working. The story of Merlin’s infernal father must really be considered as an allegorical allusion to the fact that he was a “philosophical son” of the serpent or dragon, a title applied to all initiates of the Mysteries, who thus acknowledge Nature as their mortal mother and wisdom in the form of the serpent or dragon as their immortal Father. Confusion of the dragon and serpent with the powers of evil has resulted as an inevitable consequence from misinterpretation of the early chapters of Genesis.
Arthur while an infant was given into the keeping of Merlin, the Mage, and in his youth instructed by him in the secret doctrine and probably initiated into the deepest secrets of natural magic. With Merlin’s assistance, Arthur became the leading general of Britain, a degree of dignity which has been confused with kingship. After Arthur had drawn the sword of Branstock from the anvil and thus established his divine right to leadership, Merlin further assisted him to secure from the Lady of the Lake the sacred sword Excalibur. After the establishment of the Round Table, having fulfilled his duty, Merlin disappeared, according to one account vanishing into the air, where he still exists as a shadow communicating at will with mortals; according to another, retiring of his own accord into a great stone vault which he sealed from within.
It is reasonably certain that many legends regarding Charlemagne were later associated with Arthur, who is most famous for establishing the Order of the Round Table at Winchester. Reliable information is not to be had concerning the ceremonies and initiatory rituals of the “Table Round.” In one story the Table was endowed with the powers of expansion and contraction so that fifteen or fifteen hundred could be seated around it, according to whatever need might arise. The most common accounts fix the number of knights who could be seated at one time at the Round Table at either twelve or twenty-four. The twelve signified the signs of the zodiac and also the apostles of Jesus. The knights’ names and also their heraldic arms were emblazoned upon their chairs. When twenty-four are shown seated at the Table, each of the twelve signs of the zodiac is divided into two parts–a light and a dark half–to signify the nocturnal and diurnal phases of each sign. As each sign of the zodiac is ascending for two hours every day, so the twenty-four knights represent the hours, the twenty-four elders before the throne in Revelation, and twenty-four Persian deities who represent the spirits of the divisions of the day. In the center of the Table was the symbolic rose of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the symbol of resurrection in that He “rose” from the dead. There was also a mysterious empty seat called the Siege Perilous in which none might sit except he who was successful in his quest for the Holy Grad.
In the personality of Arthur is to be found a new form of the ever-recurrent cosmic myth. The prince of Britain is the sun, his knights are the zodiac, and his flashing sword may be the sun’s ray with which he fights and vanquishes the dragons of darkness or it may represent the earth’s axis. Arthur’s Round Table is the universe; the Siege Perilous the throne of the perfect man. In its terrestrial sense, Arthur was the Grand Master of a secret Christian-Masonic brotherhood of philosophic mystics who termed themselves Knights. Arthur received the exalted position of Grand Master of these Knights because he had faithfully accomplished the withdrawal of the sword from the anvil of the base metals. As invariably happens, the historical Arthur soon was confused with the allegories and myths of his order until now the two are inseparable. After Arthur’s death on the field of Kamblan his Mysteries ceased, and esoterically he was borne away on a black barge, as is so beautifully described by Tennyson in his Morte d’Arthur. The great sword Excalibur was also cast back into the waters of eternity–all of which is a vivid portrayal of the descent of cosmic night at the end of the Day of Universal Manifestation. The body of the historical Arthur was probably interred at Glastonbury Abbey, a building closely identified with the mystic rites of both the Grail and the Arthurian Cycle.
The medieval Rosicrucians were undoubtedly in possession of the true secret of the Arthurian Cycle and the Grail legend, much of their symbolism having been incorporated into that order. Though the most obvious of all keys to the Christos mystery, the Grail legend has received the least consideration.
Easter weekend is the culmination of the Christian faith, every other aspect of the religion being merely a footnote. Yet the death and resurrection of Jesus also holds relevance in Christian Gnosticism, which may come as a surprise since Gnosis is assumed to be its central tenet.
And, as will be revealed, what is perhaps more surprising is that Gnosis and the Cross are not mutually exclusive – although the blood atonement doctrine is virtually nonexistent in Gnosticism.
Like with all their theologies, the Gnostics held varying attitudes on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These fell between the basic literal to the extreme metaphoric. Grab your cross and let’s go up to various Golgotha’s to find these different attitudes.
The Valentinian view
In The Spiritual Seed: The Church of the Valentinians, Einar Thomassen presents various interpretations on how the Valentinians saw the Passion of the Savior. One of the most interesting ones is that at the moment Jesus died, a cosmic explosion erupted that fully awakened the Pneumatic (the Elect) and gave a final choice to the Psychic (those straddling the fence between the spiritual and material realms). One could call Christ’s death a Gnosis Bomb.
In The Gospel of Truth, Valentinus himself writes a very inspirational passage on the crucifixion:
For this reason error was angry with him, so it persecuted him. It was distressed by him, so it made him powerless. He was nailed to a cross. He became a fruit of the knowledge of the Father. He did not, however, destroy them because they ate of it. He rather caused those who ate of it to be joyful because of this discovery.
Valentinus also declares:
This is the book which no one found possible to take, since it was reserved for him who will take it and be slain. No one was able to be manifest from those who believed in salvation as long as that book had not appeared. For this reason, the compassionate, faithful Jesus was patient in his sufferings until he took that book, since he knew that his death meant life for many. Just as in the case of a will which has not yet been opened, for the fortune of the deceased master of the house is hidden, so also in the case of the All which had been hidden as long as the Father of the All was invisible and unique in himself, in whom every space has its source. For this reason Jesus appeared. He took that book as his own. He was nailed to a cross. He affixed the edict of the Father to the cross.
In other words, the death of Jesus and Gnosis are truly one and the same in many Valentinian belief systems. In a sense, the Cross is the Tree of Knowledge (Gnosis). (It is also interesting that Sophia takes the form of the Tree of Knowledge in The Secret Book of John).
The Valentinian Gospel of Philip makes a connection instead between the Cross and the Tree of Life:
Philip the apostle said, “Joseph the carpenter planted a garden because he needed wood for his trade. It was he who made the cross from the trees which he planted. His own offspring hung on that which he planted. His offspring was Jesus, and the planting was the cross.” But the Tree of Life is in the middle of the Garden. However, it is from the olive tree that we got the chrism, and from the chrism, the resurrection.
In the Secret Book of James, also a Valentinian work, Jesus plainly states: “Remember my cross and my death, and you will live!”
The Sethian and other views
Not all Gnostic sects viewed the Passion narrative in such positive terms. Although mostly lukewarm about the crucifixion, the Sethians in the Gospel of Judas express disdain for any atoning death. This attitude is revealed in a passage where Jesus mocks the Apostles and their belief in Jewish Temple rituals that includes blood sacrifice. However, some scholars argue that Jesus does not see his fated execution as wholly negative since it means discarding his human clothes and once again becoming an Aeon.
Many Gnostic texts, like the Letter of Peter to Phillip and the Gospel of Mary, simply see the death and resurrection drama as a small intermission in the imparting of Gnosis by Jesus – as well as a test of faith for his followers. Echoing the Sethian attitude, the great mysteries are truly passed on after Jesus has returned in an angelic manifestation and can no longer be harassed by the Archons (the Pistis Sophia has Jesus teaching his disciples for 12 years after his resurrection!).
Some Gnostics were simply against the idea that Jesus Christ could suffer on Earth (or that he even possessed a human form). In the Apocalypse of Peter, Jesus mocks his execution and the spectacle around it, in some translations stating that it is actually Satan who has been replaced on the Cross:
Be strong, for you are the one to whom these mysteries have been given, to know them through revelation, that he whom they crucified is the first-born, and the home of demons, and the stony vessel in which they dwell, of Elohim, of the cross, which is under the Law. But he who stands near him is the living Savior, the first in him, whom they seized and released, who stands joyfully looking at those who did him violence, while they are divided among themselves. Therefore he laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind.
In the Acts of John, Jesus appears to the Apostle John after the crucifixion. He explains to the “Beloved Disciple” that there were two crosses at Golgotha. One was the Cross of Light that stands above the material world and is the doorway to faith, hope, wisdom, and the Pleroma itself. The other was the Cross of Wood that represents the lower nature of humanity dominant within all those who witnessed the crucifixion of nothing more than a phantom.
The Gnostic Sage Basilides also believed that the crucifixion was a hoax to mock the Demiurge and his angelic mafia, except that poor Simon of Cyrene was nailed to a cross. The Second Treatise to the Great Seth has a Simon replacing Jesus, but it’s unclear which Simon.
The idea of Jesus avoiding his death by a sleight of divine hand was later adopted by Islam, raising the issue that Mohammed might have been in contact with Gnostic sects or that the idea itself was still circulating among some Christians in the six century.
Oddly, the most popular Gnostic scripture, the Gospel of Thomas, makes no mention of the death and resurrection of Jesus. In saying #55, Jesus does call for those to carry a cross as he does, but some scholars believe it was a common expression in those days of widespread Jewish executions by the Romans.
An eternal and mythic view
Despite the varied beliefs in Gnosticism, there is a common thread on most versions of the Passion narrative: The Savior arrives in a form recognizable to humans; his form is destroyed by the demonic agents that rule the universe (the blame is never on the Jews or Romans); and lastly he returns in an astral manifestation to impart his greatest teachings to those who both had faith and understood his message from the beginning.
Most Gnostic and Protestant Churches will follow the lead of the Bishop of Rome and celebrate Easter this Sunday. But the celebration is actually far deeper and timeless, since the death and resurrection of a Godman is a classic motif found in many cultures representing the renewal of various aspects of Creation and beyond.
And because Gnostics believe in becoming Christlike while alive, the death and resurrection of the Savior symbolizes part of the process of Gnosis itself. An individual who seeks ultimate spiritual freedom must die to his lower self that is attached to the material world. Then he must arise as a transformed being that is not only firmly connected to the Godhead but can teach the way of soul-ascension to others. A person is no longer part of the crowds under the Cross of Wood staring at phantoms but within the Cross of Light, filled with faith, hope, wisdom and even the Pleroma. Beyond this beautiful imagery, the Acts of John further expands on this promise:
Understand me then as the slaying of a Word, wound of a Word, hanging of a Word, suffering of a Word, fastening of a Word, death of a Word, resurrection of a Word, and defining this Word, I mean every man
Christ and human can become one when the Gnosis Bomb goes off and spreads in the shape of what must look like a cross of light.
We must comprehend and understand that the Bible itself is what we call the body of the doctrine. Yet in order to comprehend the body of the doctrine, we have to study the soul of the doctrine and the spirit of the doctrine.
We cannot comprehend the body of the doctrine if we ignore the soul and spirit of the doctrine. The soul of the doctrine is the knowledge related to the science of Alchemy, which in the Tree of Life is represented by the sephirah Daath, the canopy of the Tree of Knowledge; and the spirit of the doctrine is the science of Kabbalah – the Tree of Life, represented in the ten Sephiroth.
The spirit of the doctrine, the Kabbalah, relates to what we call the archetypes, the different spiritual symbols which are interrelated with the psychological symbols of the soul of the doctrine which is Alchemy. The body of the doctrine is contained in what we call the Bible; so, soul and spirit explains the body or different stories that we find written especially in the book of Genesis.
Humanity has the body of the doctrine, but millions of human beings ignore the soul of the doctrine and the spirit of the doctrine. The soul and spirit of the doctrine are precisely what we teach in these lectures in order for us to understand all those symbols, stories, that we find written in the body of the doctrine; people who ignore Alchemy and Kabbalah misinterpret the Bible, thus, this is why these ignorant arrive at the conclusion that the Bible is just a book of tales written by people who did not make any sense of their stories. This is why we are giving these lectures so that we can comprehend all of these alchemical and kabbalistic narratives of the bible. So the story of Lot and his two daughters, who escape from Sodom and Gomorrah, is something that relates to our own psychological nature.
To begin, let us comprehend what the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, which are interrelated with our own psychosomatic nature, explain about the four elements of nature. To know about this, we have to read just the first verse of the first chapter of the book of Genesis 1:2, where we find the explanation of how everything began. It is written:
בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ
“In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.”
If you observe the Hebrew letters of the words that mean “the heavens and the earth” in Hebrew , namely, את השמים ואת הארץ Ath ha’Shamayim Veath Ha’Aretz, in them are hidden the main letters that symbolize the four elements in Alchemy. In Kabbalah the letter א Aleph is the symbol of air. The letter ש Shin is the symbol of fire. The letter מ Mem is the symbol of water. Now, the letter ת Tav at the very bottom, is the symbol of earth. In the beginning the letter Tav was written as a cross, thereafter as an X, then later, as a character that looks like the letter H. And finally, the modern ת Tav whose shape joints a letter Resh, at the right side of it, to the letter Nun at its left; Nun, fish is a symbol of earth. Why is Tav the symbol of earth? Because the word [את Ath], contains the first letter and the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The letter Aleph being the symbol of the first triangle of the Tree of Life, which is call the Holy Trinity. And the letter Tav or cross, symbol of Malkuth, the earth, the last sephirah, which is at the West or bottom of the Tree of Life.
So when we see the Tree of Life, we find that the East relates to the letter Hei, that is called in Kabbalah, the Ain Soph, from which the light of Kether – which is the crown, first Sephirah of the Tree of Life – emerges. Kether represents the Atzilutic triangle, symbolized by the letter Aleph. The Hebrew word הא, Ha, contains the letter Hei and the letter Aleph together, הא, Ha, means Lo or Behold, yet in Hebrew Hei-Aleph הא is also the spelling of the letter Hei. What we want to state here is that the letter Aleph is always hidden within the letter Hei. Thus, Air, Aleph is the breath always hidden within the letter Hei. Behold, Aleph is the breath hidden within the ה Hei of the mysterious Tetragrammaton, יהוה Iod-Hei-Vav-Hei. So, the shape of the letter א Aleph, symbol of the Atzilutic Trinity, also contains the letters Iod and Vav of the Tetragrammaton, יהוה, which are represented here, in the first triangle of the Tree of Life.
Let us now study the four elements, in order for us to understand how they are distributed in the Tree of Life. So the first, the Atzilutic triangle is in relation with the letter Aleph, air. The second, the Ethical triangle is in relation with the letter Shin, fire. And the third, the triangle of Priesthood is in relation with the letter Mem, water. And as we stated, the letter Tav the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is the cross that symbolizes Malkuth, the Earth, which is at the very bottom of the Tree of Life. So, this is how we have to visualize the four elements.
Now, the four cardinal points, east, west, north and south on the Tree of Life are located as follows: east is Kether above and west is Malkuth below. Let us continue reading the book of Genesis related with the four elements: We read that “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth,” and thereafter, “And the earth – which is the west – was formless and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep”, the deep is the South. “And the רוח אלהים Ruach Elohim hovered upon the face of the waters” the רוח אלהים Ruach Elohim that hovered upon the face of the western waters is the North. This is how we visualize the four elements and the four cardinal points in the Tree of Life. The earth which is the west, which is formless and void is our own physicality; formless and void because we do not have the elements within that we need in order to realize the Tree of Life. Usually, some Kabbalists associate the south with Chesed, and the north with Geburah, which is wrong. Any alchemist knows very well that in order to perform the exorcism of fire, he has to face south. And fire in the south relates to Geburah, and the water to the north relates to Chesed. These two elements are interrelated in the stories of the book of Genesis. And this is how we have to place and see them, because the south, which is of course the left side of the Tree of Life goes down into the west and even further into what is call Klipoth, which is the center of the earth; this is where we find the fire. This is why in Alchemy, when we talk about the south, we always point down towards Hell. And when we say North we point up, which is of course when the sun is at its zenith. Anybody knows that when the sun is at its zenith, it is in the north; it is when the sun is strong. But the south relates to two aspects: the left side of the Tree of Life, and the very depth of the earth. This is why south and west are interrelated in the stories of the book of Genesis.
So when we want to explain the origin of life in the universe, we always know that the east is of course Kether, and the West is the earth. But also we have to comprehend that the north is also up, and the South is down. That way, we do not enter into confusion, because in the story of Abraham, he always travels to the South. This is why many Kabbalists state that because Abraham always travels to the South, he is the South, and this is wrong. Abraham, Chesed is in the North, when the sun is at its zenith, when it is very shiny and strong during the day.
And יהוה appeared unto him in the plains of מים רא Maim re: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. —Genesis 18: 1
The esoteric meaning of which is as follows: When Abraham sat at the door of his tent; that is, at the gate separating the higher (triangle) and lower worlds (or sephiroth), symbolized by the letter Aleph, he felt the great heat of the day (the sun at its zenith, the North); that is, he became mentally and spiritually enlightened by (the rising of) the divine light of Kether, the First Logos (in Chesed). – Zohar
When the divine light of Kether sets in the West, it is because it is sinking, going down into the South, so, when it goes towards the South, it goes down and sets in the West; and continues down into Klipoth.
The light of Chokmah, the Second Logos, was beheld by Isaac (in Geburah) when, in the cool of the evening when the sun was going down (to the South), he prayed for the coming of this light, as it is written: “And Isaac (Geburah) went out to meditate in the field at the eventide.” Genesis 24: 63 – Zohar
Any initiate, any monad, any spirit who wants self realization has to travel from Chesed to Geburah. Chesed symbolizes our Innermost, our Inner Being, our Spirit, Abraham, who seats at the door of his tent in the heat of the day, the North, up there when the sun is at its zenith; thus our Monad has to travel to the South, in order to descend into Yesod, the center of the earth. Never for instance will an alchemist say that the North is in the center of the earth. If we say, the South is in the center of the earth, it is logical. And if we say our head is in the North, it is logical too. We have to apply Alchemy and Kabbalah at the same time, but some Kabbalists are not Alchemists; they are just intellectual Kabbalists, this is why they err.
“The descent into the Ninth Sphere (the center of the earth) was, in the ancient mysteries, the highest trial to prove the supreme dignity of the hierophant. Hermes, Buddha, Dante, Zoroaster, Abraham, etc. had to descend to the Ninth Sphere (Yesod) in order to work with (Geburah-Samael) the fire and (Chesed-Abraham) the water, the origin of worlds, beasts, humans and Gods. Every authentic and legitimate White Initiation begins there (in the South).” —Samael Aun Weor.