Category Archives: Spiritual Development

The Hermetic Papers of A. E. Waite and his idea for The Hermetic Text Society

 

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‘The Hermetic Text Society was a pipe-dream of Waite’s that never proceeded further than the issuing of this breathtaking prospectus’, A.E. Waite’s bio-bibliographer R.A. Gilbert intriguingly observed with reference to a 14-page pamphlet issued by Waite in 1907.  Searching the Internet for ‘The Hermetic Text Society’ only yields a few references, all to the now sadly defunct American periodical Cauda Pavonis: The Hermetic Text Society Newsletter. Of Waite’s Hermetic Text Society’s ‘pipe-dream’ there is not a trace on the world wide web; in print, fortunately, there is Gilbert’s brief but informative description of Waite’s ‘grandiose affair’ in the biography which he published in 1987.  

At the time Waite laid down his plan for a Hermetic Text Society, he had already been in control for a few years of the Isis Urania Temple of the collapsed Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which he had re-named ‘The Independent and Rectified Rite’ (with the implicit and tacit addition of ‘of the Golden Dawn’). Waite had diverted the Order away from magic towards mysticism, altogether in line with his belief that there was a secret tradition underlying all esoteric paths, whether mystical, alchemical, kabbalistic, Rosicrucian, masonic or other, which led to direct experience of God. On the professional side of his life, he was wrapping up his career as a commercial manager for Horlick’s, manufacturers of malted milk. Waite wrote in his autobiography Shadows of life and thought that at this time, prospects ‘of a new life’ opened before him: these prospects were related to definitively establishing himself as an authority and an exponent of the ‘secret tradition’. His Hidden church of the Holy Graal, published in 1909, was to be its first product.

Gilbert writes that the idea for the Hermetic Text Society had been suggested to Waite by the gnostic scholar G.R.S. Mead, who had reviewed Karl von Eckartshausen’s The cloud upon the sanctuary in the translation of Isabelle de Steiger for the Theosophical Review in 1903. Waite had written an Introduction for the book, which had caused Mead to enthuse: ‘If only someone – and why not the scholarly mystic who writes this Introduction? – would play Max Muller to the “sacred books” of the Christian mystics from the XIVth to the XVIIIth centuries, what a feast there would be for hundreds of thousands of starving souls!’ – Cis van Heertum for The Ritman Library

more text at the link http://www.ritmanlibrary.com/collection/hermetica/the-hermetic-text-society-fl-1907/

What is Alchemy? by A.E. Waite
The Introductory Notes are taken from “Hermetic Papers of A.E.Waite”, edited by R.A Gilbert (Aquarian Press,1987). The text of “What is Alchemy?” reproduced here is scanned from the periodical “The Unknown World”, and formatted and corrected by hand at[Adepti.com]
THERE are certain writers at the present day, and there are certain students of the subject, perhaps too wise to write, who would readily, and do, affirm that any answer to the question which heads this paper will involve, if adequate, an answer to
those other and seemingly harder problems- What is Mysticism? What is the Transcendental Philosophy? What is Magic? What Occult Science? What the Hermetic Wisdom? For they would affirm that Alchemy includes all these, and so far at least as the world which
lies west of Alexandria is concerned, it is the head and crown of all. Now in this statement the central canon of a whole body of esoteric criticism is contained in the proverbial nut-shell, and
this criticism is in itself so important, and embodies so astounding an interpretation of a literature which is so mysterious, that in any consideration of Hermetic literature it
must be reckoned with from the beginning; otherwise the mystic student will at a later period be forced to go over his ground step by step for a second time, and that even from the starting point. It is proposed in the following papers to answer definitely
by the help of the evidence which is to be found in the writings of the Alchemists the question as to what Alchemy actually was and is. 

Two Levels of Love – Mars-Venus and Uranus-Neptune by Dane Rudhyar | Rudhyar Archival Project | Astrological Articles

That Neptune-pervaded love is not a feeling of (as ordinarily meant) compassion for whatever experiences suffering or deprivation. This love is an act of transfiguration, a flow of light, a song of tenderness; it is mother love as well as lover love, for it seeks to hold everything — and, of course, more particularly, the object upon which the love is then focused — in the vast openness of a consciousness for which every contact is, or tends to be, a dissolution of boundaries and an absolution for past fears, refusals or sins.

As Venus is polarized by Mars, so is Neptune polarized by Uranus. Neptune is the “lashless eye” of divinity, always open to absorb light and receive the messages of need and longing from whoever is ready for transfiguration; Uranus is the response of the eye, the glowing glance that, to the individual yearning for release from the cyclic involvements of normality and productivity, is an intoxicating drink of “living waters,” a song of peace beyond yet through all tragedies.

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via Two Levels of Love – Mars-Venus and Uranus-Neptune by Dane Rudhyar | Rudhyar Archival Project | Astrological Articles.

Who am I? The False Self and the True Self by Jaq White

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Continuing on from my previous blog post Who Am I? All the World’s a Stage and All the Men and Women Merely Players

In the Natural World, we can observe a harmony that is at the same time both simple, and yet sophisticated.  We see different insects, plants, trees and creatures evolving into their own sophisticated form of life in order to maximise their chance of survival, and to find their own unique place in the eco-system. Different species rely on each other, and sustain each other.

There are of course conflicts, struggles for survival, and hierarchies.

In the human world, things are no different; we are very sophisticated life forms, with  the same conflicts, struggles for survival, and hierarchies. The difference is, above and beyond the natural way of things, we have also created our own very sophisticated conflicts, false hierarchies, and have created a system whereby we cause entire sections of our own species to struggle to survive, in many cases simply to sustain others.

What is the cause of our living  increasingly  out of harmony with even our own species and out of balance with the rest of the eco-system?

At birth we are unaware of any divisions in life, but as we become more self-aware and aware of our surroundings, we learn our name, who belongs to our family, our group, our town, our country. In many respects, this is the same among other life forms, and can be useful for helping us to fit in with our culture and to become a useful and productive member of our own society. However, to these we can add the particularly human traits that we choose to believe to be part of our identity – “I am a doctor” or even things such as “I read this newspaper” and “I go to see these types of films”, “This is my enemy, this is my friend”, “I need this, I don’t need that”.

As we become adults, we are now fully conditioned by our family, teachers, friends and society, and are keenly aware of the qualities we have which are considered weaknesses by society, and those which are considered strengths. We are judged or praised, rewarded or punished depending on our emotions and actions; we learn to ignore or hide the parts of our self that are not approved of, or do not fit in with our culture or society’s conditioning and programming. This is reinforced by so many people around us, that we come to believe that this is all I can be, and we forget or bury the other aspect of ourselves.

In many disciplines, this self is considered the false self. What can make it even more difficult, is if we are also aware that this self we are presenting to the world IS false.  In the outside world, we may think we need this false self to fit in with the system, trying to go about our business within society just as others do but inside, privately we have remained in touch with some aspect of our true self underneath the false self. We may have lived as this false self for so long that we may also not approve of what we percieve to be our true self, due to the conditioning. We even begin to think we are some kind of freak. We have learned not to trust, even doubting those who want the best for us, as we have been betrayed by others when we have confided our feelings or shown aspects of our true self to them. Is there a way back to the You that you already knew before you got so tied up in the physical world, in the expectations of society and the belief that it was the only way to exist or survive?

Yes, this conditioning and programming can be undone; it is a mistake to believe that it can’t.

We can start by unravelling our thoughts, each time we find ourselves thinking “I am this” or “I’m no good at that” “I can only do this in such a way”.  Ask yourself, do you REALLY believe that? And if so, why? Who told you that? or when did you decide that? Our thoughts are made up of stories; our mind contains so many stories from the past that shape our thinking and assumed beliefs – some from events that actually happened, and others that we made up ourselves at various points in our life, for protection or to boost our self-esteem. Because our mind has turned these thoughts into stories, we use this inner library to reference the way we act or approach the present, however much we might wish to behave differently.

By turning an inner light on these thoughts and stories, we can shed awareness on past conditioning, we can expand our consciousness and begin to rediscover and recover our true identity. We can then begin to rediscover the harmony that can be found with members of our own species, to rely on one another, to sustain one another, and even further, find our place within the eco-system. We have a choice.

The Rebel in The Soul: The Wisdom of Ordinariness

The Rebel in The Soul: The Wisdom of Ordinariness, by Jaq White with reference to Bika Reed

In the text known as papyrus 3024 from the Berlin Museum, known by names such as “Man tired with his life”, “Man in conversation with his Soul”, “Man arguing with his Soul” we can perhaps study one of the earliest accounts of the confrontation with the ego. In 1978, Bika Reed translated the text from the perspective of the initiatic experience.

“The stubborn, passionate, long-suffering ass is the perfect natural symbol of our rational personality. It bears, like the ass, the weight of all our suffering, and carries us through life. It is stubborn, selfish and refuses to go where we think we best.
Yet paradoxically, it is the same stubborn ass, and only the ass, that can carry the Rebel to salvation; mounted upon the ass, man is mounted upon his own rebellion. The ass is the father of all rebels, but also the carrier of redemption.” – from “The Rebel in the Soul” by Bika Reed.

In Ancient Egypt, Iai, the Great Ass, is the aspect of the Sun God with Ass’s ears.  This is Osiris in his listening state; listening equalled wisdom to the Ancient Egyptians. The Book of the Gates depicts the progression of the sun through the night. The Twelve Hours of Night are depicted as regions of the Underworld. Each region is an Hour, and each Hour has its gate through which to pass. To pass, we must know the name of the gatekeeper, or guardian.

This is the same as identifying the layers of egos we each have within – an ego is what others might call one of the deadly sins, Pride, Envy, Greed…all those different aspects of the personality that can prevent us from progressing through the gates or stages of spiritual development.  When we look inwardly at the aspects of our personality that rule or affect our lives, we need to recognise what is affecting our spiritual progress; if we learn to use it wisely and become its master, instead of it being master over us, we then recognise the Guardian of that Gate – can name the Guardian, and can “pass through the Gate”

Consciousness moves from Gate to Gate. In Ancient Egypt, life and consciousness were synonymous. To be dead meant to be un-awakened and inert, moved like a leaf in the wind. To be dead, meant to be in a state of consciousness preceding consciousness or “life”.  In the section of the Ninth Hour, a crisis menaces the Solar Barque as it passes through the hours of the night. A double monster, half snake half crocodile, SHES-SHES, approaches the boat

The ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five parts: the Ren (name), the Ba (similar to our concept of a soul, but also similar to ‘reputation’, the Ka (vital spark or essence that departs at the moment of death), the Sheut (referred to by Egyptologists as the Shadow – a person could not exist without a shadow and a shadow couldn’t exist with the person), and the Ib (metaphysical heart – the heart was believed to contain all the thought, will, intention; hence, after death, the Ib heart was weighed at the moment of judgement. If it weighed more than the feather of Maat (truth, universal law akin to Dharma) a “heavy heart”was consumed immediately by the monster, Ammit) .

Following the death of the Khat (body), the Ba and Ka were reunited to reanimate the Akh – translated as “the effective one”.

From the Eighteenth Dynasty tomb of Paheri, we have a description of this:

“Your life happening again, without your ba being kept away from your divine corpse, with your ba being together with the akh … You shall emerge each day and return each evening. A lamp will be lit for you in the night until the sunlight shines forth on your breast. You shall be told: “Welcome, welcome, into this your house of the living!”

In the argument with his Ba, the man is bargaining for the right to die because he can no longer face the suffering of living in this world without his mentor. In Ancient Egypt, it was believed that a man and his Ba would be judged together in the afterlife; the Ba can make appeals on his behalf.  So the man is arguing with his Ba to persuade it that killing himself is the correct thing to do, as he wants it to accept his reasons, and agree with him so that it will stay with him after death and make favourable appeals. However, his Ba has other ideas..

“I spoke to my soul that I might answer what it said:

To whom shall I speak today?

Brothers and sisters are evil and friends today are not worth loving.

Hearts are great with greed and everyone seizes his or her neigh­bor’s goods.

Kindness has passed away and violence is imposed on everyone.

To whom shall I speak today?

People willingly accept evil and goodness is cast to the ground everywhere.

Those who should enrage people by their wrongdoing

make them laugh at their evil deeds.

People plunder and everyone seizes _his or her neighbour’s goods.

To whom shall I speak today?

The one doing wrong is an intimate friend and the brother with whom one used to deal is an enemy.

No one remembers the past and none return the good deed that is done.

Brothers and sisters are evil

and people turn to strangers for righteousness or affection.

To whom shall I speak today?

Faces are empty and all turn their faces from their brothers and sisters.

 

Hearts are great with greed

and there is no heart of a man or woman upon which one might lean.

None are just or righteous and the land is left to the doers of evil.

To whom shall I speak today?

There are no intimate friends

and the people turn to strangers to tell their troubles.

None are content and those with whom one used to walk no longer exist.

I am burdened with grief and have no one to comfort me.

There is no end to the wrong which roams the earth.

When we consider the age of this text, from  XII Dynasty  Egypt (approx 1991-1783 bc), we can see that the nature of the woes and troubles of humankind have changed very little.

This is where the text can also be read as a text of initiation.

The man’s soul tells him that men of greater value than he have suffered from the world, and advises him to gain an insight from his attitude and search to overcome his despair.  It tells him some allegorical stories – the first being the “mythical field of transformations”; both the field AND the plough are to be found within man. The field is the ground; the earth, where the soul of the man dwells, and is to be cultivated by the ploughman – the man must “cultivate” himself.

The harvest is what is then offered back to the soul. The “harvest”, what is left of the man after his life, is in dangerous hands if left uncultivated. It is exposed to a “storm from the North” said to indicate the Head (Reason); the storm is consciousness threatened by intellectual rebellion.
The man at this point in the story, when his Rebel/ego is arguing for survival, is not yet ready to let the wisdom of his heart rule his intellect, and this is symbolised by the crocodile. The man’s heirs, in the story he is told by his soul, are eaten by a crocodile whilst still in the egg, before they are fully formed, before they have lived, and will never realise their potential.

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The ‘heir’ in the egg symbolises what the cultivated man could become. Here we can see it as an unborn Akh.

The Man’s Ba is teaching him that The Great Ass, the ego and False Self,  must be sacrificed to the crocodile. Unless this sacrifice is made, the man cannot travel further through the Hours of the Night to the light of dawn;  he will never integrate with his mystical body and be re-born.

Anubis, the god of the Underworld, is also the god of helping us realise our full potential, as protector of the Soul in its journey through the Underworld.

Reed tells us:

“The Ancient Egyptian Myth which describes the birth of the redeemer, Anubis, gives us an insight into this dramatic turning, or birth into higher consciousness. In this myth, the jackal god is pursuing Seth, the Enemy of Light, who takes the form of a panther and escapes the dog.

But the mother dog, Isis, sees the panther and catches up. Terrified of the wild bitch, the panther transforms himself into the dog, his own pursuer. But Isis digs her teeth into his back. Caught, Seth cries, “Why are you pursuing this poor dog who does not exist?” The myth then says “And this is how he became. HE BECAME (IN PU) is the Egyptian name for Anubis, the first Priest of Osiris. The Redeemer (IN PU) only comes to life by seeing his own “inexistence”

In other words, we will only reach our full potential when we ‘pursue’ ourselves, and by doing this – the Work on the Self: cultivation, we will understand the need to sacrifice our false identity. Our ego will argue for its own survival, and this Rebel will put up the greatest fight, until we recognise it for what it is – a false non-existent self – and are born into higher consciousness, as our own “heir”.

The man shows he has understood:

In truth, he who is yonder will be a living god,
punishing the crime of him who does it.

In truth, he who is yonder will stand in the Bark of the Sun,
making its bounty flow  to the temples.

In truth, he who is yonder will be a wise man,
who cannot, when he speaks, be stopped
from appealing to Re !

His Ba answers:

Throw complaint over the fence,
you my comrade, my brother!
May you make offering upon the brazier,  and cling to life by the means you describe! Yet love me here, having put aside the West!
[the West is where the deceased goin the Ancient Egyptian belief system]

But when it is wished that you attain the West, that your body joins the earth, then I shall alight after you have become weary, and then we shall dwell together!”

Commentary on the Book of Gates

Further insights on Berlin Papyrus 3024  http://www.sofiatopia.org/maat/ba.htm

Balzac: The more he saw

The more he saw, the more he doubted. He watched men narrowly, and saw how, beneath the surface, courage was often rashness; and prudence, cowardice; generosity, a clever piece of calculation; justice, a wrong; delicacy, pusillanimity; honesty, a modus vivendi; and by some strange dispensation of fate, he must see that those who at heart were really honest, scrupulous, just, generous, prudent or brave were held cheaply by their fellow-men.
‘What a cold-blooded jest!’ said he to himself. ‘It was not devised by a God.’
From that time forth he renounced a better world, and never uncovered himself when a Name was pronounced, and for him the carven saints in the churches became works of art”
― Honoré de Balzac