The Rosicrucian Christianity Lectures
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PARSIFAL: WAGNER'S FAMOUS MYSTIC MUSIC DRAMA
As we look about us in the material universe we see a myriad of FORMS and all these forms have a certain COLOR; and many of them emit a definite TONE; in fact, all do, for there is sound even in so-called inanimate Nature. The wind in the tree-tops, the babbling brook, the swell of the ocean, are all definite contributions to the harmony of Nature.
Of those three attributes of nature: Form, Color, and Tone, FORM is the most stable, tending to remain IN STATU QUO for a considerable time, and changing very slowly. COLOR, on the other hand, changes more readily; it fades, and there are some colors that change their hue when held at different angles to the light; but TONE is the most elusive of all three; it comes and goes like a will-o'-the-wisp, which none may catch or hold.
We also have three ARTS which seek to express the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in these three attributes of the World-Soul, namely, SCULPTURE, PAINTING, and MUSIC.
The sculptor who deals with FORM seeks to imprison beauty in a marble statue that will withstand the ravages of time during millenniums; but a marble statue is cold and speaks to but a few of the most evolved who are able to infuse the statue with their own life.
The painter's art deals pre-eminently with COLOR; it gives no tangible form to its creations; the form on a painting is an illusion from the material point of view, yet it is so much more real to most people than the real tangible statue, for the forms of the painter are alive there is LIVING beauty in the painting of a great artist, a beauty that many can appreciate and enjoy.
But in the case of a painting we are again affected by the changeableness of color; time soon blots out its freshness, and at the best, of course, no painting can outlast a statue.
Yet in those arts which deal with FORM and COLOR there is a creation once and for all time; they have that in common, and in that they differ radically from the TONE-ART, for music is so elusive that it must be recreated each time we wish to enjoy it, but in return it has a power to speak to ALL human beings in a manner that is entirely beyond the other two arts. It will add to our greatest joy and soothe our deepest sorrows; it can calm the passion of the savage breast and stir to bravery the greatest coward; it is the most potent influence in swaying humanity that is known to man, and yet, viewed solely from the material standpoint, it is superfluous, as shown by Darwin and Spencer.
It is only when we go behind the scenes of the visible and realize that man is a composite being: Spirit, soul and body, that we are enabled to understand why we are thus differently affected by the products of the three arts.
While man lives an OUTWARD life in the Form-world, where he lives a FORM life among other forms, he lives also an INNER life, which is of far greater importance to him; a life where his feelings, thoughts, and EMOTIONS create before his "inner vision" PICTURES and scenes that are ever-changing, and the fuller this inner life is, the less will the man need to seek company outside himself, for he is his own best company, independent of outside amusement, so eagerly sought by those whose inner life is barren, who know hosts of other people, but are strangers to themselves, afraid of their own company.
If we analyze this inner life we shall find that it is twofold: (1) The Soul-life, which deals with the FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS; and (2) the activity of the Ego, which directs all actions by THOUGHT.
Just as the material world is the base of supply whence the materials for our dense body have been drawn, and is pre-eminently the world of FORM, so there is a world of the soul, called the Desire World among the Rosicrucians, which is the base from whence the subtle garment of the Ego, which we call the soul, has been drawn, and this world is particularly the world of COLOR. But the still more subtle World of Thought is the home of the human Spirit, the Ego, and also the realm of TONE. Therefore, of the three arts music has the greatest power over man; for while we are in this terrestrial life we are exiled from our heavenly home and have often forgotten it in our material pursuits, but then comes music like a fragrant odor laden with unspeakable memories. As an echo from home it reminds us of that forgotten land where all is joy and peace, and even though we may scout such ideas in our material mind, the Ego knows each blessed note as a message from homeland and rejoices in it.
This realization of the nature of music is necessary to the proper appreciation of such a great masterpiece as Richard Wagner's Parsifal, where the music and the characters are bound together as in no other modern musical production.
Wagner's drama is founded upon the legend of Parsifal, a legend that has its origin enshrouded in the mystery which overshadows the infancy of the human race. It is an erroneous idea when we think that a myth is a figment of human fancy, having no foundation in fact. On the contrary, a myth is a casket containing at times the deepest and most precious jewels of spiritual truth, pearls of beauty so rare and ethereal that they cannot stand exposure to the material intellect. In order to shield them and at the same time allow them to work upon humanity for its spiritual upliftment, the Great Teachers who guide our evolution, unseen but potent, gave these spiritual truths to nascent man encased in the picturesque symbolism of myths, so that they might work upon his FEELINGS until such time as his dawning intellect shall have become sufficiently evolved and spiritualized so that he may both FEEL and KNOW.
This on the same principle that we give our children moral teachings by means of picture books and fairy tales, reserving the more direct teaching for later years.
Wagner did more than merely copy the legend. Legends, like all else, become encrusted by transmission and lost their beauty and it is a further evidence of Wagner's greatness that he was never bound in his expression by fashion or creed. he always asserted the prerogative of art in dealing with allegories, untrammeled and free.
As he says in Religion and Art: "One might say that where Religion becomes artificial, it is reserved for art to save the spirit of Religion by recognizing the figurative value of the mythic symbols, which Religion would have us believe in a literal sense, and revealing their deep and hidden truth through an ideal presentation. . . .Whilst the priest stakes everything on religious allegories being accepted as matters of fact, the artist has no concern at all with such a thing, since he freely and openly gives out his work as his own invention. But Religion has sunk into an artificial life when she finds herself compelled to keep on adding to the edifice of her dogmatic symbols, and thus conceals the one divinely true. . . beneath an ever growing heap of incredibilities recommended to belief. Feeling this, she has always sought the aid of art, who on her side has remained incapable of a higher evolution so long as she must present that alleged reality to the worshiper in the form of fetishes and idols, whereas she could only fulfill her true vocation when, by an ideal presentment of the allegoric figure, she led to an apprehension of its inner kernel--the truth ineffably divine."
Turning to a consideration of the drama PARSIFAL we find that the opening scene is laid in the grounds of the castle of "Montsalvat." This is a place of peace, where all life is sacred; the animals and birds are tame, for like all really holy men, the knights are harmless, killing neither to eat nor for sport. They apply the maxim, "Live and let live," to all living creatures.
It is dawn, and we see Gurnemanz, the oldest of the Grail-knights, with two young squires under a tree. They have just wakened from their night's rest, and in the distance they spy Kundry coming galloping on a wild steed. In Kundry we see a creature of two existences, one as a servitor of the Grail, willing and anxious to further the interests of the Grail-knights by all means within her power; this seems to be her real nature. In the other existence she is the unwilling slave of the magician Klingsor and is forced by him to tempt and harass the Grail-knights, whom she longs to serve. The gate from one existence to the other is "sleep," and she is bound to serve who finds and wakes her. When Gurnemanz finds her she is the willing servitor of the Grail, but when Klingsor evokes her by his evil spells he is entitled to her services whether she will or not.
In the first act she is clothed in a robe of snake skins, symbolical of the doctrine of rebirth, for as the snake sheds its skin, coat after coat, which it exudes from itself, so the Ego in its evolutionary pilgrimage emanates from itself one body after another, shedding each vehicle as the snake sheds its skin, when it has become hard, set, and crystallized so that it has lost its efficiency. This idea is also coupled with the teachings of the Law of Consequence, which brings us as reapings whatever we sow, as in Gurnemanz' answer to the young squire's avowal of distrust in Kundry:
Under a curse she well may be From some past life we do not see, Seeking from sin to loose the fetter, By deeds for which we fare the better. Surely 'tis good she follows thus, Helping herself while serving us.
When Kundry comes on the scene she pulls from her bosom a phial which she says she has brought from Araby and which she hopes will be a balm for the wound in the side of Amfortas, the king of the Grail, which causes him unspeakable suffering and which cannot heal. The suffering king is then carried on the stage reclining on a couch. He is on his way to his daily bath in the nearby lake, where two swans swim and make the waters into a healing lotion which assuages his dreadful sufferings. Amfortas thanks Kundry, but expresses the opinion that there is no relief for him till the deliverer has come, of whom the Grail has prophesied, "a virgin fool, by pity enlightened." But Amfortas thinks death will come before deliverance.
Amfortas is carried out, and four of the young squires crowd around Gurnemanz and ask him to tell them the story of the Grail and of Amfortas' wound. They all recline beneath the tree, and Gurnemanz begins:
"On the night when our Lord and Savior Christ-Jesus ate the last supper with His disciples He drank the wine from a certain chalice and that was later used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch the life-blood which flowed from the wound in the Redeemer's side. He also kept the bloody lance wherewith the wound was inflicted, and carried these relics with him through many perils and persecutions. At last they were taken in charge by Angels, who guarded them until one night a mystic messenger sent from God appeared and bade Titurel, Amfortas' father, build a Castle for the reception and safe-keeping of these relics. Thus the Castle of Montsalvat was built ON A HIGH MOUNTAIN, and the relics lodged there under the guardianship of Titurel with a band of holy and chaste knights whom he had drawn around him, and it became a center whence might spiritual influences went forth to the outside world.
"But there lived in yonder heathen VALE a black knight who was not chaste, yet he desired to become a knight of the Grail, and to that end he mutilated himself. He deprived himself of the ABILITY TO GRATIFY his passion, BUT THE PASSION REMAINED. King Titurel saw his heart filled with black desire, and refused him admittance. Klingsor then swore that if he could not serve the Grail, the Grail should serve him. He built a castle with a magic garden and populated it with maidens of ravishing beauty, who emitted an odor like flowers, and these waylaid the knights of the Grail (who must pass the castle when leaving or returning to Montsalvat), ensnared them to betray their trust and violate their vow of chastity, thus they became the prisoners of Klingsor and but few remained as defenders of the Grail.
"In the meantime Titurel had turned the wardenship of the Grail over to his son Amfortas and the latter, seeing the serious havoc wrought by Klingsor, determined to go out to meet him and do battle with him. To that end he took with him the holy spear.
"The wily Klingsor did not meet Amfortas in person, but evoked Kundry and transformed her from the hideous creature who appears as the servitor of the Grail to a woman of transcendent beauty, and under Klingsor's spell she meets and tempts Amfortas, who yields and sinks into her arms, letting go his hold upon the sacred spear. Klingsor then appears, grasps the spear, inflicts a wound on the defenseless Amfortas, and [but for the heroic efforts of Gurnemanz] he would have carried Amfortas a prisoner to his magic castle. He has the holy spear, however, and the king is crippled and suffering, for the wound will not heal."
The young squires spring up, fired with ardor, vowing that they will conquer Klingsor and restore the spear. Gurnemanz sadly shakes his head, saying that the task is beyond them, but reiterates the prophesy that the redemption shall be accomplished by a "pure fool, by pity enlightened."
Now cries are heard: "The swan! Oh, the swan!" and a swan flutters across the stage and falls dead at the feet of Gurnemanz and the squires, who are much agitated at the sight. Other squires bring in a stalwart youth with bow and arrows, and to Gurnemanz' sad enquiry, "Why did you shoot the harmless creature?" he answers innocently, "Was it wrong?" Gurnemanz then tells him of the suffering king, of the swan's part in making the healing bath. Parsifal is deeply moved at the recital and breaks his bow.
In all religions the quickening spirit has been symbolically represented as a bird. At the baptism, when Jesus' body was in the water the Spirit of Christ descended into it AS A DOVE. "The Spirit moves upon the water," a fluidic medium, as the swans move upon the lake beneath the Yggdrasil, the tree of life of Norse mythology, or upon the waters of the lake in the legend of the Grail. The bird is therefore a direct representation of highest spiritual influence and well may the knights sorrow at the loss. Truth is many sided. There are at least seven valid interpretations to each myth, one for each World, and looked at from the material literal side, the compassion engendered in Parsifal and the breaking of his bow mark a definite step in the higher life. No one can be truly compassionate and a helper in evolution while he kills to eat, either in person or by proxy. THE HARMLESS LIFE IS AN ABSOLUTE ESSENTIAL PREREQUISITE TO THE HELPFUL LIFE.
Gurnemanz then commences to question him about himself; who he is, and how he came to Montsalvat. Parsifal displays the most surprising ignorance. To all questions he answers, "I do not know." At last Kundry speaks up and says: "I can tell you who he is. His father was the noble Gamuret, a prince among men, who died fighting in Arabia while this child was yet in the womb of his mother, Lady Herzleide. With his last dying breath his father named him Parsifal, the pure fool. Fearing that he would grow up to learn the art of war and be taken from her, his mother brought him up in a dense forest in ignorance of weapons and warfare."
Here Parsifal chimes in: "Yes, and one day I saw some men on shapely beasts; I wanted to be like them, so I followed them for many days till at last I came here and I had to fight many man-like monsters."
In this story we have an excellent picture of the Spirit's search for the realities of life. Gamuret and Parsifal are different phases of the life of the Spirit. Gamuret is the man of the world, but in time he became wedded to Herzleide, heart--affliction, in other words. He meets sorrow and dies to the world, as all of us do who have come into the higher life. While the bark of life floats on summer seas and our existence seems one grand, sweet song there is no incentive to turn to the higher; every fiber in our bodies cries, "This is good enough for me," but when the billows of adversity roar around us and each succeeding wave threatens to engulf us, then we have wedded heart-affliction and become men of sorrows, and are ready to be born as Parsifal, the pure fool, or the soul who has forgotten the wisdom of the world and is seeking for the higher life. So long as a man is seeking to accumulate money or to have a good time, so miscalled, he is wise with the wisdom of the world; but when he sets his face toward the things of the spirit, he becomes a fool in the eyes of the world. He forgets all about his past life and leaves his sorrows behind him, as Parsifal left Herzleide, and we are told that she died when Parsifal did not return to her. So sorrow dies when it has given birth to the aspiring soul that flees from the world, who may be in the world to perform his duty but is not of the world.
Gurnemanz has now become imbued with the idea that Parsifal is to be the deliverer of Amfortas and takes him along to the Grail-castle. And to Parsifal's question, "Who is the Grail?" he answers:
Here we find Wagner bringing us back into pre-Christian times, for before the advent of Christ, Initiation was not free to "whosoever will" seek in the proper manner, but was reserved for certain chosen ones who were given special privileges in return for being dedicated to the temple-service, such as the Brahmins and the Levites. The coming of Christ, however, wrought certain definite changes in the constitution of man so that now all are capable of entering the pathway of initiation. Indeed, it had to be so when international marriages took away caste.
At the castle of the Grail Amfortas is being importuned on all sides to perform the sacred rite of the Grail service, to uncover the holy chalice that the sight of it may renew the ardor of the knights and spur them on to deeds of spiritual service; but he shrinks from fear of the pain the sight will cause him to feel. The wound in his side always starts to bleed afresh at the sight of the Grail, as the wound of remorse pains us all when we have sinned against our ideal. At last, however, he yields to the combined entreaties of his father and the knights. He performs the holy rite, though the while he suffers the most excruciating agony, and Parsifal, who stands in a corner, FEELS SYMPATHETICALLY THE SAME PAIN, without realizing why, and when Gurnemanz eagerly asks him after the ceremony what he saw, remains dumb and is thrust out of the castle by the angry, because disappointed, old knight.
The feelings and emotions unchecked by knowledge are fruitful sources of temptation. The very harmlessness and guilelessness of the aspiring soul renders it often an easy prey to sin. It is necessary to soul growth that these temptations come in order to bring out our weak points. If we fall, we suffer as did Amfortas, but the pain evolves conscience and gives abhorrence for sin. It makes us strong against temptation. Every child is INNOCENT because it has not been tempted, but only when we have been tempted and have remained pure, or when we have fallen, repented, and reformed are we VIRTUOUS. Therefore Parsifal must be tempted.
In the second act we see Klingsor in the act of evoking Kundry, for he has spied Parsifal coming towards his castle, and he fears him more than all who have come before, BECAUSE HE IS A FOOL. A worldly-wise man is easily entrapped by the snares of the flower-girls, but Parsifal's guilelessness protects him, and when the flower-girls cluster around him he innocently asks, "Are you flowers? You smell so sweetly." Against him the superior wiles of Kundry are necessary, and though she pleads, protests, and rebels, she is forced to tempt Parsifal and to that end she appears as a woman of superb beauty, calling Parsifal by name. That name stirs in his breast memories of his childhood, his mother's love, and Kundry beckons him to her side and commences to subtly work upon his feelings by recalling to his memory visions of his mother's love and the sorrow she felt at his departure, which ended her life. Then she tells him of the other love, which may compensate him; of the love of man for woman, and at last imprints upon his lips a long, fervent, and passionate kiss.
Then there was silence deep and terrible, as if the destiny of the whole world hung in the balance at that fervent kiss, and as she still holds him in her arms his face undergoes a gradual change and becomes drawn with pain. Suddenly he springs up as if that kiss had stung his being into a new pain, the lines on his pallid face become more intense, and both hands are clasped tightly against his throbbing heart as if to stifle some awful agony--the Grail-cup appears before his vision, and then Amfortas in the same dreadful agony, and at last he cries out: "Amfortas, O Amfortas! I know it now--the spear-wound in thy side--it burns my heart, it sears my very soul....O grief! O misery! Anguish beyond words! the wound is bleeding here in my own side!"
Then again, in the same awful strain: "Nay, this is not the spear- wound in my side, for this is fire and flame within my heart that sways my senses in delirium, the awful madness of tormenting love....Now do I know how all the world is stirred, tossed, convulsed and often lost in shame by the terrific passions of the heart."
Kundry again tempts him: "If this one kiss has brought you so much knowledge, how much more will be yours if you yield to my love, if only for an hour?"
But there is no hesitation now; Parsifal has awakened; he knows right and wrong, and he replies: "Eternity were lost to both of us if I yielded to you even for one short hour; but I will also save you and deliver you from the curse of passion, FOR THE LOVE THAT BURNS WITHIN YOU IS ONLY SENSUAL, AND BETWEEN THAT AND THE TRUE LOVE OF PURE HEARTS THERE YAWNS AN ABYSS LIKE THAT BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL."
When Kundry at last must confess herself foiled she bursts out in great anger. She calls upon Klingsor to help, and he appears with the holy spear, which he hurls against Parsifal. But he is pure and harmless, so nothing can hurt him. The spear floats harmlessly above his head. He grasps the spear, makes the sign of the cross with it and Klingsor's castle and magic garden sink into ruins.
The third act opens on Good Friday many years after. A travel- stained warrior, clad in black mail, enters the grounds of Montsalvat, where Gurnemanz lives in a hut. He takes off his helmet and places a spear against a nearby rock and kneels down in prayer. Gurnemanz coming in with Kundry, whom he has just found asleep in a thicket, recognizes Parsifal with the holy spear and, overjoyed, welcomes him, asking him whence he comes?
He asked the same question on Parsifal's first visit and the answer was: "I do not know." But this time it is very different, for Parsifal answers: "THROUGH SEARCH AND SUFFERING I CAME." The first occasion depicts one of the glimpses the soul gets of the realities of the higher life, but the second, the conscious attainment to a higher level of spiritual activity by the man who has developed by sorrow and suffering, and Parsifal goes on to tell how he was often sorely beset by enemies, and might have saved himself by using the spear, but refrained because it was an instrument of healing and not for hurt. The spear is the spiritual power which comes to the pure of heart and life, but is ONLY TO BE USED FOR UNSELFISH PURPOSES; impurity and passion cause its loss, as was the case with Amfortas. Though the man who possesses it may upon occasion use it to feed 5,000 hungry people he may not turn a single stone to bread to appease his own hunger, and though he may use it to stay the blood that flows from the severed ear of a captor, he may not use it to stay the life-blood that flows from his own side. It was ever said of such: "Others he saved; himself he could not (or would not) save."
Parsifal and Gurnemanz go into the Grail-castle, where Amfortas is being importuned to perform the sacred rite, but refuses in order to save himself the pain entailed in viewing the Holy Grail, and baring his breast, implores his followers to kill him. At this moment Parsifal steps up to him and touches the wound with the lance, causing it to heal. He dethrones Amfortas, however, and takes to himself the wardenship of the Holy Grail and Sacred Lance. Only those who have the most perfect unselfishness, coupled with the nicest discrimination, are fit to have the spiritual power symbolized by the spear. Amfortas would have used it to attack and hurt an enemy. Parsifal would not even use it in self-defense. THEREFORE HE IS ABLE TO HEAL, while Amfortas fell into the pit he dug for Klingsor.
In the last act Kundry, who represents the lower nature, says but one word: SERVICE. She helps Parsifal, the Spirit, to attain by her perfect service. In the first act she went to SLEEP when Parsifal visited the Grail. At that stage the Spirit cannot soar heavenward except when the body has been left asleep or dies. But in the last act Kundry, the body, goes to the Grail-castle also, for it is dedicated to the Higher Self, and when the Spirit as Parsifal has attained he has reached the stage of liberation spoken of in Revelation: "Him that overcometh will I make A PILLAR in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out." Such an one will work for humanity from the inner Worlds; he needs no physical body anymore; he is beyond the Law of Rebirth, and therefore Kundry dies.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, in his beautiful poem, "The Chambered Nautilus," has embodied in verse this idea of constant progression in gradually improving vehicles, and final liberation. The nautilus builds its spiral shell in chambered sections, constantly leaving the smaller ones, which it has outgrown, for the last build.
THE ANGELS AS FACTORS IN EVOLUTION
When we speak of evolution, the idea conveyed to the Western mind is mainly a materialistic one. We have accustomed ourselves to look at the matter from the purely scientific standpoint: that our solar system has proceeded from what was once a nebulous fire-mist, in which currents were generated in a spontaneous manner and started it into motion. It assumed a spherical shape and threw off rings as it contracted. These rings broke up and formed planets which cooled and solidified. At least one planet, our Earth, spontaneously generated simple organisms, which later by the process of evolution became more and more complex, ascending through the Radiates (starfish, sea-urchins) to Mollusks (oysters, clam), thence to Articulates (crab, lobster), into the Vertebrate species. After passing through the four classes of vertebrates--Fishes, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals--this spontaneous evolutionary impulse reaches its highest present stage in man, who is regarded as the flower of evolution: the highest intelligence in the Cosmos.
The materialistic scientist will pooh-pooh all suggestions of a God, or any other external agency, as entirely unnecessary to account for the universe. In support of his position he may take a basin of water and pour some oil upon its surface. The water is to represent space and the oil the fire-mist. He will then commence to stir the oil, which will gather in a ball, and bulging at the equator it will throw off a ring. That will form a smaller sphere and revolve about the central mass as a planet about its sun. Then the scientist may triumphantly turn and ask with a pitying smile: Now, do you see how natural it is, and how superfluous your God?
Truly, it is wonderful how dull the brightest minds may be when influenced by preconceived notions, and it is a marvel that one capable of devising this splendid demonstration should at the same time fail to see that HE HIMSELF represents the author of our system, whom we call God, in this experiment. For the experiment would never have been devised, the oil would never have been poured out or formed into the semblance of sun and planet but for his thought and action in the matter. So that instead of proving God a superfluity his demonstration of the nebular theory proves to the fullest extent the absolute necessity for a FIRST CAUSE--call it God or by any other name--and Herbert Spencer, the master thinker of the nineteenth century, saw this and rejected the nebular theory in consequence. He failed, however, to produce an adequate explanation of the Genesis of a solar system, free from that to him objectionable flaw, and so science, though unwilling to acknowledge it, still retains a theory of the origin of the world that requires the intelligent action of a being or beings extraneous to the universe: a Creator or Creators.
When the scientific theory is properly understood, it is thus in full harmony with the Bible, which tells us of a number of different Beings who have been active in the evolution of the Earth and the creatures upon it. We hear of Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Powers, Principalities, Powers of Darkness, Powers of the Air, etc., and to the enquiring mind the question naturally occurs: Who are they all? what part have they played in the past? and what is their present work? For the enquiring mind cannot believe that Angels are human beings transformed by death to spiritual entities whose sole pleasure and only care is to toot in a trumpet or play upon a harp when they did not know one note from another in Earth-life. Such a supposition does violence to the reason and is out of keeping with all the methods of nature, which require us to work for our faculties.
The occult teaching, in harmony with the Bible and modern scientific theories as explained in the chapter on the "Occult Analysis of Genesis" in THE ROSICRUCIAN COSMO-CONCEPTION, is, that that which is now the Earth has not always been as dense and solid as it is now, but that it has gone through three periods of development previous to the one we are now in, and after the present "Earth period is over, there will be three more periods before our evolution has been completed."
During the three periods preceding our present state, that which is now the Earth, and man upon it, have both gradually consolidated from a filmy ethereal state to a condition that was much denser than is now the case.
While "Involution," the process of consolidation, was going on, the Spirit, which is now the Ego in man, was building a body or vehicle for each degree of density. It was unconscious, but helped by different spiritual hierarchies: the Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim.
When the acme of density was reached the Spirit came to consciousness as a separate Ego in the material world. That was the turning-point: when conscious he cannot be dragged farther down and as his spiritual consciousness gradually dawns upon him he will spiritualize his bodies, extracting from each the soul, which is the power of the body from which it is extracted.
In that way he will gradually lift himself out of the dense material regions, and lift the Earth with him during the remainder of the Earth Period and the three succeeding periods.
At the beginning of evolution the threefold "Virgin Spirit" was naked and inexperienced. Its Involution involved the BUILDING OF BODIES, which it accomplishes unconsciously with the help of higher powers.
When its bodies have been built and it becomes conscious, Evolution begins. That involves SOUL-GROWTH and must be accomplished by the individual efforts of the spirit in man, the Ego. At the end of evolution it will possess SOUL-POWER as the fruitage of its pilgrimage through matter. It will be a CREATIVE INTELLIGENCE.
Among the Rosicrucians these seven periods of development have been given the names of the planets which rule the days of the week, because they are the seven days of Creation, when that term is used in its widest sense. But THEY ARE METAMORPHOSES OF THE EARTH and have absolutely nothing to do with the planets in the sky except that the conditions they represent are about such as we find upon the planets of the same names. These names are as follows: (1) Saturn Period, (2) the Sun Period, (3) the Moon Period, (4) the Earth Period (of which, for reasons explained in THE ROSICRUCIAN COSMO-CONCEPTION, the first half is called "Mars" and the second half "Mercury"), (5) the Jupiter Period, (6) the Venus Period, and (7) the Vulcan Period.
Our evolution started upon the Earth, as it was in the Saturn Period, dark, hot, and of a gaseous substance, taken from the materials of the Region of Concrete Thought. There "the Divine Spirit" (which is the highest aspect of the triune "Virgin Spirit," made in the likeness of God) was awakened by the "Lords of the Flame" (called "Thrones" in Christian esotericism), who also radiated from themselves a germinal "thought- form" as a material counterpart of the Divine Spirit. This thought-form has later developed and consolidated into man's dense body, and thus the highest spirit and lowest body of man are the fruitage of the Saturn Period.
In the Sun Period the Earth reached the density of the Desire World, and became a brilliantly luminous fire-mist. There the "Cherubim" awakened the second aspect of the threefold Virgin Spirit: "The Life Spirit," and its counterpart, the vital body, was started as a thought-form and made to interpenetrate the germinal dense vehicle which had consolidated and reached the same density as the Earth; it was then built of "desire stuff."
Thus man had a twofold Spirit and a twofold body when the condition we call the Sun Period was over.
In the Moon Period the density of the Earth increased so that it reached the etheric condition of matter known as the Etheric Region. It had a fiery core, then an envelope of moisture, and outside an atmosphere of FIRE- FOG or hot, steamy gas. When the water was heated by the fiery core it ascended outwards, and when cooled by outside space the steam descended again towards the heated center.
From this moist substance the densest body of these "Water-men" was built. The thought-form for the dense body had consolidated to a moist gas, the thought-form for our present vital body had descended into the Desire World. It was formed of desire matter. To this twofold body the thought-form for our present desire body was added in the Moon Period and the "Seraphim" awakened the third aspect of the Virgin Spirit: "the Human Spirit," and the Virgin Spirit became an "Ego," so that at the close of the Moon Period man-in-the-making possessed a threefold spirit and a threefold body.
(1) The Divine Spirit--its counterpart is the dense body. (2) The Life Spirit--its counterpart is the vital body. (3) The Human Spirit--its counterpart is the desire body.
The threefold body is the "shadow" of the threefold Spirit, thrown into the Region of Concrete Thought in the three periods preceding our present Earth Period. Since then these thought-forms have all condensed; the desire body, one degree; the vital body, two degrees, and the dense body, three degrees before their present density was reached.
The Lords of the Flame (Thrones), the Cherubim and the Seraphim had worked with man of their own free wills out of pure Love. They could learn nothing from an evolution such as ours. They have withdrawn now, and in the Earth Period the "Powers" (EXUSIAI) of esoteric Christianity, called "Lords of Form" by the Rosicrucians, have particular charge. For this is pre-eminently the period of "Form" and this spiritual hierarchy has given to
THE RELATIVE PERMANENCY OF THE VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE WORLDS
all things the present definite, sharply defined concrete form, whereas these forms were inchoate and cloudy in the former periods.
Besides the spiritual hierarchies mentioned there were others who helped, but we will mention only the beings who attained to the human stage of development in the three preceding periods. These beings have advanced, of course, so the men of the Saturn Period are now three steps in advance of the human, and are called "Lords of Mind." The humanity of the Sun Period are two steps ahead of us and are now "Archangels," and the humanity of the Moon Period are one step in advance of us. They are the Angels.
The periods are DAYS of Creation, and between each two periods there is always an interim of rest or subjective activity, a Cosmic Night analogous to the night of restorative sleep we enjoy between day and day of our Earth-life, and when the evolving life emerges from "Chaos" at the dawn of a new period there is first a RECAPITULATION on an advanced scale of the work done in former periods before the work of the new period is begun; thus the acme of possible perfection is achieved.
Therefore man's evolution upon the Earth as now constituted is divided into "EPOCHS," in which he first recapitulates his past, and then goes onward to conditions that foreshadow development which will only reach their full expression in future periods.
In the first or POLARIAN EPOCH, "Adam," or humanity, was formed of "earth." He was in that purely mineral stage corresponding to the Saturn Period, where he possessed only a dense body fashioned by himself under the guidance of the Lords of Form. He was imbedded in the dark gaseous planet that was just emerging from chaos, inchoate and void, as the Bible says; in the same way that the raspberry is made up of numerous little berries, so was our "MOTHER-EARTH" made up of the dense mineral-like bodies of all the kingdoms, and the life-streams expressing themselves as plant, animal, and man were working to liberate them.
In the second or HYPERBOREAN EPOCH, God said: "Let there be light," the hot gas became a luminous fire-mist as it was in the Sun Period, and man's dense body was clothed with a vital body and it floated hither and thither above the fiery Earth as a large, baggy thing. Man was then plant- like because of having the same vehicles as the plant has now, and the Angels were his helpers in organizing his vital body, and remain so to the present day.
This may seem an anomaly, as the Angels are the humanity of the Moon Period, where man got his desire body. But it is not, for only in the Moon Period did the evolving Earth condense into Ether, such as now forms the substance of our vital body, and there the humanity (the present Angels), learned to build their densest bodies from etheric materials, as we are learning to build ours from the solids, liquids, and gases of the Chemical Region. They became experts at it, as we will be at building a dense body by the time the Earth Period is ended.
Thus they are specially fitted to be the helpers of other later life-waves in the functions which are the important expressions of that vehicle. They help in the building and maintenance of plant, animal, and man, and are thus concerned in assimilation, growth, and propagation. Angels announced the birth of Isaac to faithful Abraham, but destroyed Sodom for abusing the creative function. The angel Gabriel (not Archangel, according to the Bible) foretold the birth of Jesus and John. Other Angels announced the birth of Samuel and Samson.
The Angels are particularly active in the vital bodies of the plants, for the stream of life ensouling that kingdom started its evolution in the Moon Period, when the Angels were human, and they worked with the plants as we are now working with our minerals. There is therefore a particular affinity between Angel and plant Group Spirit. Thus we can account for the enormous assimilation, growth, and fecundity of the plants. Man also grew to an enormous size in the second or Hyperborean Epoch, where the Angels had principal charge. So does the child in its second septenary epoch of life, because then the Angels have full sway, and at the end of that epoch, at fourteen, the child has reached puberty and is able to reproduce its kind; also due to the work of the Angels.
The third, or LEMURIAN EPOCH, presents conditions analogous to the Moon Period, but denser, the fiery core of the Earth is in the center, the boiling, seething water next, and the steamy atmosphere or "fire-fog" outside, for thus "god had divided the land from the waters," as Genesis says; the dense moisture from the steam, and there man lived on islands of the forming solid crust scattered in the sea of fire or boiling water. His form was then quite firm and solid, it had a trunk, limbs, and the head was beginning to form. The desire body was added, and man brought under the dominion of the Archangels.
Again we have a seeming anomaly, for the Archangels were the humanity of the Sun Period when the vital body was started, at a time when man had as yet no desire body, but the difficulty vanishes when we remember that each of our bodies is the shadow of one of the aspects of the Spirit, as previously outlined, and that the vehicles are not GIVEN by these hierarchies. They are merely helpers of man in training a particular vehicle, because of a special fitness. Thus the Archangels are trainers of our desire bodies, because they became experts at building and using such a vehicle when they were human in the Sun Period, for then they built their densest bodies of "desire stuff," as we are now building ours from chemical mineral matter.
The Archangels are also the main support of the animal Group Spirit, because the present animals started as minerals in the Sun Period. In the Lemurian Epoch man was situated as they are now: the Spirit was OUTSIDE the body it had to guide, but all man's bodies had been impregnated with the germ of separate personality presently to be explained, so they were not so easily guided as the animal of today, where the SEPARATE spirit in each animal is yet unconscious. Desire was rampant and needed a strong curb. That was supplied to a few of the most tractable among the nascent humanity in the Lemurian Epoch, and they in time became teachers of the others, but the majority did not become ensouled.
In the fourth, or ATLANTEAN EPOCH, the real work of the Earth Period began. The threefold Spirit was destined to enter the threefold body and become an INDWELLING Spirit, so as to obtain full control of its vehicles, but the link of mind was lacking, and that we owe to the Lords of Mind, who had previously impregnated the bodies with the feeling of separate personality which has overborne the earlier feeling of solidarity with all and made it possible for each to draw individual experience from like conditions.
The Lords of Mind reached the human stage in the Saturn Period. They were not "gods" come here from an earlier evolution like the Cherubim and Seraphim, hence the eastern tradition calls them "Asuras," ("Not-gods," and the Bible calls them "Powers of Darkness"; partially because they came from the dark Saturn Period, and partly because it regards them as evil. Paul speaks of our duty of wrestling with them.
Paul is right, but it is well to understand that there is nothing absolutely evil, and that in times past they have been man's benefactors. Evil is but good misplaced or undeveloped. For instance, suppose an expert organ-builder making a splendid organ, his masterpiece. Then he is the embodiment of GOOD. But if he follows the organ into church and insists upon taking the place of the organist when he is no musician, he is EVIL.
When the Lords of Mind were human in the Saturn Period and the Earth was of the substance of the Region of Concrete Thought, we started our evolution as minerals, and the Lords of Mind learned to build their densest body of these minerals, as we are now building our bodies from the present minerals. Thus they became experts in the use of this "mind stuff," and also set up an exceedingly intimate connection with US.
Then, when the time came that the threefold body was ready for the Spirit to enter, man needed a mind to link spirit and body. But that the Gods could not give. It would have been too great. The Archangels and Angels could not yet create, but the Lords of Mind just reached the third period beyond the one where they were human, here on Earth, and became Creative Intelligences, so naturally they stepped into the breach and radiated from their bodies the substance from which our mind is formed.
Coming from that source, our mind is naturally separative and prone to resent authority. It should be the tool of the infant Spirit in governing the threefold body; a curb upon rampant desire. But it is masterful added CUNNING to desire, then passion and wickedness and in itself harder to tame than wild horses; it loves more to rule the lower than to obey the higher. It ran high in Atlantis. The race degenerated and it became necessary to start a new race under new conditions.
In the meantime the hot, steamy atmosphere of Lemuria had cooled and condensed to a thick fog during Atlantean times. There the "Niebelungen" or "children of the mist" of the old folk-story lived. They were Atlanteans. Then "God" commanded that "the waters gather in one place and the dry land appear." The mist gradually condensed to a flood, which filled the valley of Atlantis and caused the wicked race to perish, except a few who were a "chosen people," chosen to be the nucleus of our present Aryan race, to inherit a promised land: The Earth as now constituted. These few were saved as variously related in the story of Noah and of Moses leading God's people out of Egypt (Atlantis) through the Red Sea (the Atlantean floods), where Pharaoh (the wicked Atlantean king) perished with all his followers.
The spiritual hierarchies had been seriously hampered in their efforts to help man from the time he received the light of mind, and his understanding was opened. Then he took matters of which he had no real knowledge into his own hands. Propagation, for instance, and as a result of his ignorance of the Cosmic laws in connection, parturition became painful and death a more frequent and disagreeable experience. Therefore it became necessary to take stern measures to check the lower nature. This was done by JEHOVAH, THE HIGHEST INITIATE OF THE MOON PERIOD and ruler of the Angels, supported in his efforts by the Archangels, who are Race Spirits. (Daniel 12:1).
Jehovah helped man to get control over the mind and desire body by giving Law and decreeing punishment for its transgression. The fear of God was pitted against the desires of the flesh. Thus sin became manifest in the world.
The Archangels, as Race Spirits, fight for or against a nation, as required to punish one group which has sinned, by means of another. (Daniel 10:20.)
The Angels cause man's corn and grapes to grow or wither, his cattle to increase or not, his family to multiply or die out, as required to bless him for obedience to the law of the chief Race Spirit Jehovah, or to punish him for transgression against the law. Under his sway all the Race- Religions: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, etc., have flourished and worked in the desire body as RELIGIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Jehovah helps man to curb the desire body because that was started in the Moon Period.
But Law makes for sin; it is separative, and besides, man must learn to do right apart from fear. Therefore Christ, the Highest Initiate of the Sun Period, came to teach the RELIGION OF THE SON, which works upon the vital body, which was started in the Sun Period. He taught that love is superior to law. Perfect love casteth out fear and emancipates humanity from race, caste, or nation to Universal Brotherhood, which will become a fact when Christianity is LIVED.
When Christianity shall have fully spiritualized the vital body, a still higher step will be the RELIGION OF THE FATHER, who as the Highest Initiate of the Saturn Period will help man to spiritualize the dense body which was started in the Saturn Period. Then even brotherhood will be transcended; there will be neither ME nor THEE, for all will be consciously ONE in God, and Man will have been emancipated by the help of Angels, Archangels, and higher Powers.
LUCIFER, TEMPTER OR BENEFACTOR OR BOTH?
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