LET THERE BE LIGHT — ON GENESIS
ALVIN BOYD KUHN, Ph. D.
“The seven Uraeus divinities are my body.”
EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD
“The world was completed according to the perfect nature of the number six”.
“Number seven is the festival day of all the earth, the birthday of the world. I know not whether any one is able to celebrate the number seven in adequate terms.”
Among those revered and cherished repositories of ancient arcane wisdom which have transmitted the enlightenment of demi-gods from age to age the myth of Genesis holds an important place. And no less certainly can it be asserted that the loss of its true esoteric meaning, along with that of other similarly cryptic oracles of truth and wisdom, has been the cause of a vast befuddlement of the mind of western nations for some fifteen centuries. When, about the third century, the early Christian movement revolted viciously against the whole ancient system of imparting truth and knowledge in secret to disciplined recipients only, in the Arcane Brotherhoods and Mystery Schools, and discarded in consequence the allegorical interpretation of the myths, substituting a purely literal rendering and turning the figures of a spiritual drama into “historical” characters, the great ancient light of knowledge passed under an eclipse from which it has not by any means emerged even now. Except in the marvelous development of mechanics, we are still under the cloud of the Dark Ages. Philosophically, spiritually, we have not recovered what was once known — and lost. And perhaps the sorriest feature of the situation is that the mass of people, and even the leaders of orthodox religionism are neither aware of our having lost precious truth, nor can they be told convincingly that it is so.
None but a close student of comparative religion, who is also enlightened with a knowledge of the hidden keys needed to interpret all ancient scriptural documents, can be made sensible of the full extent to which the modern mind, particularly in the West, has been turned aside from truth to folly by that abortion of the sage wisdom of antiquity in the fatal third century. Loss of occult truth has left a world to grope ahead without the guidance of transcendent knowledge that it should have had. And worse than that — the quiver of false notions that were put forth in place of a profound and true rendering of vital constructions, operating upon the mind of generations, has finally sunk the general level of philosophical intelligence in our boasted modern age to a stage that can hardly be ranked much above that of so-called primitives. The net deposit of organic and traditionalized religion has been a badly warped philosophical vision. There is such a thing as a hypnotism by ideas; and it is under such a paralysis of intelligence by stereotyped and conventionalized ideas that the Occidental mind has lain, or groped as in a spell for some fifteen centuries. During some twelve centuries the mind of Europe was no free to think. It was effectively repressed by ecclesiasticism. And now, when it is free to exercise itself, it has lost the ancient principia of science, the premises for logical procedure and the archai of fundamental knowledge, which had been cryptically enshrined in the myths of old. Be it asserted in the face of academic incredulity and cynicism, just such basic data did the myths hold for our intelligence. Everywhere considered to have been the productions of a fanciful childish ignorance, they may now be proclaimed as the repositories of the sublimest knowledge and wisdom the world ever possessed! They were the offspring of transcendental sagacity, of surpassing insight and specialized knowledge which came near to passing away from earth altogether. And still scholastics, wanting both the requisite mental outlook to apprehend their deep meaning and the keys to their interpretation, speak of them as one does of the ideas of children of eight years!
The great myth of Genesis was intended to embalm for future ages a body of knowledge, of basic import, which would enlighten the human mind with correct data as to cosmogony and world building and enable it to function rationally with reference to actual evolutionary procedure. How grievously that mind has been darkened by loss of this primal sub-structure of thought may be glimpsed in the unfoldment of that lucid meaning which the study of symbolism has descried hidden beneath the mythical typology. The revelation of astonishing significance buried for centuries under the figures of the serpent, the tree, the woman, the rib, the garden and the action of the drama, may go far to convince the modern mind that the loss of the myths was a calamity of tragic proportions.
This particular myth is recondite and complex to a degree. It is all the more difficult perhaps, because the effort is usually made to read it in the single form in which it is found in the Christian Bible, where it is condensed from earlier Babylonian epics, such as the Gilgamesh story, the Berosan Akkadian version, and the Bundahish and Zend-Avesta accounts. It needs a comparative study of the Bible narrative along side of these other sources to gain inklings of meaning not indicated in the abbreviated story in Genesis. Supplementary detail in the others supplies interpretation not to be seen in Bible chapters. In promulgating the thesis that the Bible of all books alone contained Truth, Christian exegesis so far over-reached itself that it cut itself off from the help to be found in pagan literature. With the aid of parallel versions drawn from Greece, Egypt, Chaldea and Babylonia, authoritative determinations can be made which must fall with unbounded astonishment upon minds obsessed from childhood with ideas little short of chimerical and nonsensical in their purport. It can in truth be said that not an item of the commonly accepted rendering of the story bears the remotest resemblance to its true meaning. It is not in any sense a geological or biological treatise. For the drastic re-interpretations to be presented there must be adduced as ample a body of evidence as space will permit.
To begin with, a most pernicious error in common assumption about Genesis is located in the general belief that the Bible narrative is a description of the formation of our earth, its sky, land and water divisions, and the generation of the human race. Genesis is not at all the creation of the world and man! In one sense, to be made clear as the interpretation proceeds, it can be held to cover the beginnings of the world and the race of men; but it must be iterated, it is not primarily, and certainly not exclusively, a recital of those grandiose events. What, then, is it?
Briefly, it is a suggestive delineation of creative process in general. It is a graph or dramatic hieroglyph of life and growth as it ever takes place. It is a sketch of evolution procedure, of life-building and not at all confined to the mere beginnings of any one cycle. It circumscribes in it the whole of any cyclical process. It is an outline that would with equal aptness describe the formation of a universe and an egg; a galaxy and a babe; a solar system and an amoeba; the earth and an atom! For in nature�s realm it is a case of — Ab uno disce omnia — from one thing learn all. The occult wisdom of old was cognizant of a mighty truth, — that Life has but one law, which it follows, with variation of detail but with absolute invariableness of principle, in every one of its processes from the lifespan of the gnat to the eternity of universes. The Genesis story, therefore, was an epitome of all life process, from the Alpha to Omega of any cycle, vast or minute. It is a sketch of creative methodology. It is a typograph, a model picture, applicable as a norm to Nature�s creative work in any of her manifestations. And this must come as the initial or basic clarification of intelligence to free the mind from the hold of purely geocentric and anthropocentric notions implanted by purblind theology. As universally typal, it of course covers this earth formation in principle, but only in principle; not in local description. It is as if one were to describe house in principle, without describing this one house.
It is desirable next to correct the stereotyped conception — child of a false theological inculcation — that Adam and Eve were the first two mortal humans of flesh and blood. Rational “common sense” will at once indicate that such a phenomenon as the sudden appearance of two specimens of the true human species on earth without antecedent progressive approach of evolutionary types would stand as a monstrosity in Life�s orderly march. Especially bizarre would it be here, where the story states that Adam, the man, was created before God brought the animals to him to be named, in the second chapter. Evolution proceeds by gradual progression — and this invariably. There are no gaps, no missing links, in evolution, else life would cease. There is a bridge over every apparent chasm in the observed sequence, whether it has disappeared from view or not.
The theory of a first pair, a man and a woman, is also sharply contravened by the reflection that on its terms the human race was initially propagated by incest. Theology has stood dumb and helpless before the query that children ask: where did the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve (as people) find marriage mates? Thus a biological impasse confronts the theory that God by a fiat suddenly created two humans to start the race. Much of the age-long struggle between science and religion could have been obviated had nonsense not supplanted the sane meaning of the esoteric drama.
Again, the rendering of the word “days” as periods of twenty-four hours must be seen as unwarranted. The student of religious texts learns in time that this word “day” refers to any cycle in life�s progression. Life incontestably advances in cycles of alternate activity and rest, and the period of its expression in any cycle is termed a “day”. “They have their little day and cease to be”, as says Tennyson.
It is a bit saner, but still not true, to affirm that the six days of creation refer to six of our geological ages. Genesis, as said, is not a treatise on geology or even of anthropology. There is no “science” in it, in the modern use of the term.
It is permissible, by way of indulgence in a moment�s humor, to strike at the ridiculousness of Christian theology�s efforts to assign positive time periods to the creation phases, by mentioning Canon Usher�s official Church promulgation several centuries ago that God created the world at four o�clock on a Thursday afternoon, in the year 4004 B. C., and would end it at a similar hour 4004 A. D. All such efforts to historicize a myth have thrown the general mind off balance, out of all relation to nature�s time processes, which are of unbelievable length. Such presumptions also have been made the handmaid of theological fears, which have gnawed tragically at the happiness of millions. To misinterpret a book which we have set up as the one sure guide to our life all too easily spells havoc. We have too long slaughtered each other over what it never meant at all!
It is difficult to find a definite point of beginning for the elucidation, the story being closely knit of interrelated elements. But the door opens as well at verse one of the first chapter as anywhere else.
And here at once we are faced with a most incompetent translation. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. It can not be said that this is utterly wrong; it is better to say that it doesn�t render the true and the full meaning. Learned scholars might know what the text means to say under such verbiage, as a sort of shorthand expression. But it has amounted to a crime to permit this terse and inadequate statement to go out in the world of unschooled devotees to shape their basic conception of life. No one perhaps can prescribe the exact words for a fully expressive translation. But something far closer to the inherent intent of the language would be a reading like the following: “Out of (their) primordial Being the Elohim engendered spirit and matter”. To paraphrase it a little more elaborately, it might be put: “From out the depths of Infinite Being the Elohim formed the upper and the lower ranges of life”. The upper and lower worlds, or heaven and earth, in ancient typology definitely connoted spirit and matter, for the upper are spiritual and the lower are material. The straight idea is: From the head source of Being the creative powers created life in its two aspects of spirit and matter.
It has not hitherto been pointed out how fittingly a certain narrative begins with this statement. It is the first thing that God (Life) must do in the work of creation, for by the inherent terms of the creative act the manifestation of any thing can be effected only as the result of the uniting of spirit, consciousness, with matter, or body. The Supreme Being must begin his every creative cycle by splitting his nature into its dual potentiality of subject-spirit and object-matter. He can not bring his hidden self to expression unless he first divides his primal homogeneity and unity, into which he retires during his periods of non-activity, into consciousness and matter. For in his one phase he must be consciousness, in order to know what and how he will create; and in his other aspect he must be matter or substance, to have material to create with. The principle of “bifurcation” of Deity entered largely into ancient religious symbology, because the philosophers knew the formula, — as above so below — the generation process in minute bioforms faithfully depict the larger cosmic procedure. The fission or self-splitting of the nuclei of tiny cells into two halves to reproduce life portrays the grander operations in the heavens and proclaims the universality of the law.
The first verse of Genesis, then, states this initial event, the passing of life from uni-polarity to bi-polarity. Life must first bifurcate into subject and object. The statement must be taken, however, as purely philosophical, with abstract significance only; it does not refer to the sky and soil of our globe. Yet again it must be noted that sky and soil are, at their own place and level, a type and a manifestation of the great abstract law just stated. They may be said to be the truth in one grade or locale of its expression.
The bifurcation of the One into positive and negative force to become the parent of all life is typified in the scriptures by several figures, the main one being the “cleft of the rock”. The profound sense of this simple figure has been utterly missed by the theologians, learned or unlearned, for fifteen centuries. It was not discerned because the alphabet of the sacred language of symbol became as much a lost art as the reading of the Egyptian books before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone by Col. Broussard of Napoleon�s army in 1798. The rock, as the most steadfast and enduring of all things in nature, was the ancient symbol for the one thing that is perpetual in the universe, the eternal Being of Life itself. The rock types the everlasting body of Deity, the indestructible essence which is the root and ground of all. And that fragment of the eternal Rock which is the spirit in man is the “stone” that the builders rejected (rather “ejected”) to become the head of the four-based life of man. Saint Paul verifies this reading when he affirms that our fathers did eat manna in the desert and drank of the water from the everlasting Rock, “and that Rock was Christ”. And this is the Rock that in the beginning was rent asunder by the cleft that divided spirit from matter. And as man stands exactly midway between spirit and matter, consciousness and body, he is therefore thrust right into this “cleft of the Rock”. “Rock of Ages, cleft for me”, we have sung without comprehension of its deeper sense.
But the account proceeds at once from the statement of the fundamental duality into which life breaks to become creative, to the listing of a sixfold creation, climaxed by a seventh. Here we find entire agreement with pagan symbolism. But the Bible story appears to omit the part played by the intermediate number, three. In the four rivers that parted from the one stream flowing out of the garden we have the typology of the number four clearly enough. We must account for the absence of the three.
If not specifically included, it is of course implicit whenever a one, becoming first dual, is disintegrated into a seven. For a one can become a seven only by passing through the medium of a three. Our physics of light (and light is the constituent substance of all things) clarifies this phenomenon so vividly that it seems strange that it has not become a commonplace of Bible interpretation. A beam of white light, homogeneous, undifferentiated, when passed through a prism of three sides, is split into its seven constituent colors. The two are spirit and matter, but when conjoined they yield a “son” who makes the three.
Through these life comes to manifestation. A triangle is the first perfect figure because it is the first figure in which the line starting from source, going outward and bending in the direction of another dimension, comes back to unite with itself at point of departure. With great precision this matches the Platonic statement or analysis of the natural trinity of life. For they say that life becomes triadic or manifests triadically because it can do only three things: (1), it abides (on its own plane, unmoved); (2), it proceeds or energizes, affecting things beneath itself; and, (3), it converts back to its origin, or returns. And life force, deploying outward and passing through the triadic mode of activity, splits into the basic seven rays or modifications of its own nature. This is an indispensable fundamentum of the occult teaching of old. It is a great truth. And its validity is attested by no less an authority than Nature herself. Once religion is set up again on its original pedestal of impregnable natural fact, it may serve the mind of man with all its primal beneficence.
The Greeks illustrated the trinity by pointing to the threefold activity of solar light. That aspect of the light that glows in the sun is the Father; it abides. The emanation of it which proceeds from the center outward into space is the Son. And the cold dark light that is converted into luminous radiance by contact with earth�s surface is the working efficacy of the Holy Spirit. Verily it is one in three and three in one, for it is three forms of the one. And let us not miss another mighty philosophical moral that all this speaks to us: “Pure” undifferentiated spirit (let idealists note) can effectuate its release of latent power only by its contact with a material resistance! Only earth can bring to light the hidden powers of spirit.
The four “rivers” must be dealt with briefly. The Bible story has left us hopelessly bereft of comprehension of the meaning of these four streams. But again ancient numerological science comes to our aid. Four is the universal archaic number for the physical frame of the created world. It is the number of foundations, bases, pedestals; of matter which supports what spirit creates. Hence the Egyptians gave their great pyramids a four-sided base, the three-sided upper faces representing the spiritual triad of mind, soul, spirit, resting on a four-square material base — mind upheld by body.
The Tetragrammaton or four-vowelled Logoic Word, alphabetized in the Hebrew by J-H-V-H (from which “Jehovah”), depicts the philosophical hidden meaning of the number four. Life not only deploys through the triad to complete a cycle of manifestation, but each cycle of growth deposits a seed from which will spring the renewal of its next generation. Each cycle becomes the parent of the next. So, to depict numerically the formative and continuing life of Nature, the three phases necessary to bring a manifestation to light are completed by a fourth, the number of physical stability and continuity. In symbolism “J” is the Father, “H” the Mother, “V” (going down into matter and returning) is the Son; and the second “H”, representing the infinite life renewal contained always in the bosom of the Mother, completes the enduring base. The four “rivers” in Genesis, Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates, are certainly not geographical streams. For the garden of Eden was not on earth! It was a condition or “locale” of higher celestial being that to us would lie far above earthly consciousness.
Again, since four is the structural base of life, man embodies in his constitution the four basic elements, the amalgamation of which in his evolution makes him the “man” he is. The ancients named these four elements “fire”, “air”, “water” and “earth”. Each stands for and in a sense is one of his four distinct aspects of being. Earth represents his material body, water his emotional body (of sub-atomic or etheric “matter”), air his mental body (of still more sublimated “matter”), and fire his spiritual core of life, his immortal soul. The Bible is not without this fourfold symbolism, for in Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation (even in St. Paul) there are given the zodiacal signs of the “gods of the four quarters”, in the eagle, lion, bull and man, which are equated with the four “corners”, the two solstices and two equinoxes of the zodiac. In Egypt the “four guardians of the world” were by name Amsta, Hapi, Tuamutef and Kabhsenuf, the man, ape, jackal and hawk respectively. What they represent is ever the constitution of both man and the world, each composed of these four elements.
And now — the six and the seven. (Five is of less pertinent significance here.) In relation to these two numbers we are confronted with that ever-marvelous philosophical fact, that while physical manifestation of life is fourfold in principle, it is seven fold in time cycle and actual formation. Each emanation of primordial energy into space builds a structure in matter by seven successive steps. The creative impulse comes forth in seven waves, and it requires the seven impulsions to complete one utterance of the “Word” of God. Hence the creative Word was said to be composed of seven vowels. (There are seven vowels in Greek, and with the “y” and “w” seven in English.) And the seventh crowned, completed, perfected, summed up and harmonized the earlier six ascending notes of the tonic scale of this constructive gamut. The vibrations of the six were resolved and synthesized in and by the seventh. So the creation is of six forces finding completion in a seventh.
This fact has been expressed in the ancient mythos by the statement that there were six (or seven) creations. Each carried the world to a higher expression or brought life to a new and more complex organization. Each, as it might be said, added a story to the building, and the seventh rounded out the glittering dome.
The books of antiquity tell of the six creations, ending in the seventh or Sabbath. “The Framer made the creations six in number, and for the seventh he threw into the midst the fire of the sun”, says a Persian record. The several nations had names for them, and we risk a bit of tedium by giving the set of names found in the old Hindu scripts, with their brief description: (1), The Mahatattwa, the creation of universal soul as an abstract principle; Infinite Intelligence or Divine Mind; (2), Bhuta or Bhutasarga, elemental creation, giving the first differentiation of primary indiscrete substance; (3), Indriya, or Indriyaka; organic evolution. (These three were the creations of basic substance for later organic formulations, Prakrita creations); (4), Mukhya, the first creation of perceptible things, which makes it from our commonplace point of view the first of visible creations; (5), Tairyagyonya or Tiryaksrotas, the creation of animals; (6), Urdhwasrotas, or that of “divinities”; (7), Arvaksrotas, or that of man.
This list seems a little disappointing in clarity; and the creation of “divinities” in the sixth, before man in the seventh, seems at odds with evolutionary sequence. But it must be remembered that man is the half-progeny, at least, of creative divinities who descended from celestial heights to fashion him. What seems clear enough, and in harmony with other enumerations, is that the first three were formations of cosmic hyle or matter in states as yet invisible to man; and other texts give the four that are perceptible to us as the creation of the mineral kingdom, the vegetable, the animal and the human. It took three invisible and four visible creations to bring undifferentiated matter from primal “nothingness” to the organic creature called man. And the divine spark of cosmic Intelligence in man is that “sun” that the Framer cast into the midst of the earlier six non-sentient forces, to be their King and Lord. All lower orders of life were put under man�s dominion, because he was the only creature who incorporated Mind, the power to know, in the summit of the physical evolution. There could be no Lord (law-giver) or king of creation unless mind was his possession. A mindless creature could not rule. And the very word “man” is Sanskrit for “mind”.
These, then, were the six notes in the cosmic Hymn of Creation, when the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy. Each uttered tone sounded a basic keynote for a kingdom of nature. Sound aggregates matter of a particular constituency about its vibration, and the matter finally crystallizes in the shape given it be the wave length and pitch. Thus were built the worlds and the kingdoms of nature.
Each of the six cycles of progressive formation was aptly and truly described as having a definite beginning and end, a “morning” and an “evening”. This gives them the specific mark of cycles. And the fact militates conclusively against any of the theological fantasies of instantaneous creation by divine fiat, as by a snap of the divine fingers or the waving of the divine wand. Creation came — and is still coming — by slow process of growth in cycles of millions of years each.
These were the creations; but who was the Creator? Who was this God, this Jehovah, who formed the substantial worlds and ended by making man in his own likeness? Here we have a far move involved situation than that of the number of the creations. Indeed this is the item of the Genesis story that has thrown the interpretation farthest awry of the true sense.
In the first place we must defy bluntly all accepted scholastic theory as to there being two distinct creations by two different deities, the Eloistic in chapter 1, and the Jehovistic in chapter 3. Both versions contain the general material that sets forth the myth of creation as type and method. One presents some of it, the other some more of it; that is all.
It may come as a tremendous shock to the faith of the uninstructed Christian to learn that the word translated “God” in the opening verse is not “God” at all, in the sense in which this supreme Deity is characterized in all Christianity. He is not the Absolute, the Infinite, the Supreme, the One God of a monotheistic religion. On the contrary he is a deity far down the line of lesser gods in the hierarchy; a mere archangel. There is no intent to belittle him, but only to place him in his true rank and office in the creation drama.
The material supporting this assertion will prove highly surprising. The word in the original Hebrew texts of verse one is “Elohim”. Any scholar knows that “-im” is a plural ending in Hebrew. Yet the committee translated it in the singular — “God”. However, the fact that they knew the word was plural is attested by their translation of its possessive pronoun form in verse 26 in the plural, where “God” said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.
But grammar brings out another fact that is more startling still. Not only is the word plural, not singular; it proves, in the analysis, to be feminine, not masculine! The creative Lord, then, was feminine and plural. It is none other than the Elohim, of whom they were seven in every ancient religion, and they are collectively a feminine potentiality. They are the physical Mother energies of Nature, not the spiritual Father agencies. They represent, shall we say, the material womb of life, not the enforming Mind.
The establishing of the seven creative powers as feminine does not stop with grammar; it is significant beyond all measure for the entire interpretation of the myth. The whole meaning turns on this point. A number of items in the story become for the first time clearly intelligible in its light. Without its help certain aspects of the account stand violently at sixes and sevens with each other.
Who are the Elohim? They are the physical energies of nature, inherent in matter, and are employed by spiritual Gods to build universes. They are called in all books the Seven Primary Powers, the Seven Elementary Forces, the Seven Gods of Nature. Often they are known as just “The Seven”. A wide variety of names has been given them among the nations. The Seven Gods (gods); Elohim; Demiurgoi; Logoi; Rishis; Prajapati; Kabiri; Archangels; Spirits of the Presence; Angles before the Throne; Cosmocratores; Titans; Uranidae; Kronidae; Companions of Horus; Companions of Arthur; Rulers; Archons; Pitris; Amshaspends; Auxiliaries of Kronus; Sons of Sydik; Sons of Ptah; Sons of Ra; Lumazi; Children of Inertness; Rebels; Devils; Cyclops; Serpents; Sons of the Mother; and many more. (To each the number seven is generally prefixed.) They are the seven energies animating physical Nature, servants of higher Intelligences.
Not only do they have these varied names as a group, but they have been individually named in most religions. In the Babylonian they are Bel, Ea, Rimmon, Nebo, Marduk, Nerra and Ninib. In the Persian they are Azazel, Amazarak, Armers, Barkayel, Akabeel, Tamiel and Azaradel. In pre-Christian and Gnostic hierology they are correlated at times with the stellar bodies of our solar system, as regents of the stars, and as such their names are given as Michael (the Sun), Gabriel (Moon), Samael (Mars), Anael (Venus), Raphael (Mercury), Zachariel (Jupiter), and Orifiel (Saturn). And in the Jewish Kabala we find their authentic names given in a form which relates them directly to Genesis usage. Here they are designated as: Ildabaoth, Jehovah, Sabaoth, Adonai, Eloeus, Oreus and Astanphaios, with variations in the spelling. The last two are said to mean “fire” and “water” respectively. Oreus would undoubtedly be akin to the Egyptian “Uraeus”, “the serpent of fire”. Eloeus would equally clearly be the Latinized singular form of Elohim, one of the Elohim, so to say.
A feature that strikes us in these names is that several of them are already familiar to us as names of what we took to be Supreme Deity in the Bible. Jehovah, Sabaoth, Adonai and El(oeus) have already done duty as terms for “God” in the scriptures. And this fact becomes the gateway to a significant determination: The “God” in the earliest Old Testament writings is not the Supreme Being but one of the order of the Elohim, lesser deities. In fact it becomes possible now to define the status and rank of the Jehovah (Sabaoth, Adonai, El) who is the creator deity in the Genesis narrative. Jehovah is said to be the Jewish equivalent of the Greek Saturn, and the Michael (Malach, Moloch — meaning “king”) of Revelation. And scholarship has adduced another relevant fact in this connection. Just as the “Lord God of Sabaoth” would stand for the “Lord God of the Seven” (Sabaoth means “Seven”); and as Adonai was also used to designate the whole Seven; and El was used for the Seven Elohim; so Jehovah came to stand as a collective term for the entire Seven Powers. The whole Seven were summed up under the name of one of their number, and that predominantly Jehovah. Lest this statement lose its truth-telling force by standing unsupported by authority, we quote from that most comprehending of all the students of religious origins, Gerald Massey, who, in his lecture on The Hebrew and Other Creations, says: “When . . . . in the second chapter of Genesis Jehovah-Elohim forms man from the dust of the ground, and woman from the bone of the man, Jehovah is that one God who sums up in himself the seven previous powers, precisely as they were totaled in Atum-Ra, Sevekh-Ra, Agni, or Ahura-Mazda. He has been identified for us by name as one of the seven Gnostic Elohim, their Jao or Jehovah”.
And that amazing work elucidating the ancient lore, The Secret Doctrine (Vol. 3, p. 331) says:
“For Jehovah is the synthesis of the Seven Elohim, the eternal center of all those attributes and forces, the Alei of the Aleim, and the Adonai of the Adonim”.
The same work (Vol. 1, p. 438) states that Jehovah is a periphrasis or shorthand term for the three orders of the Kabbalistic Sephiroth, including the seven Elohim.
“The name is a circumlocution, indeed a too abundant figure of Jewish rhetoric, and has always been denounced by Occultists. To the Jewish Kabalists and even to Christian Alchemists and Rosicrucians, Jehovah was a convenient screen, unified by the folding of its many flaps and adopted as a substitute; one name of an individual Sephiroth being as good as another name for those who had the secret”.
And Adonai, Sabaoth and Elohim are mentioned as being “additional titles” for Jehovah.
These specifications establish the plural nature of the Creator “God” beyond dispute. But the other fact of grammatical gender is an even more vital consideration. Before analyzing its significance it is necessary again to cite authority for so radical a pronouncement, one that seems to defy all orthodox doctrine or knowledge on the subject. In The Secret Doctrine (Vol. 3, p. 203 ff.) The author quotes S. L. MacGregor Mathers, a learned student of the Kabala, to the effect that Elohim is derived from “El-h”, the final “h” denoting the feminine, with the masculine “-im” instead of the usual feminine plural “— oth”. Mathers clearly affirms the feminine form of the name; and scholars are aware that some feminine words use the masculine plural ending “-im”, as some masculine ones use the feminine “-oth”. And in The Secret Doctrine (Vol. 3, p. 182) we read:
“From this Chokmah (a masculine principle) emanated a feminine passive potency called . . . Intelligence, Binah, whose divine name is Jehovah, and whose angelic name among the Builders and Hosts is Arelim, (literally “a strong lion”) . . . . Now if we call Jehovah by his divine name, then he becomes at best and forthwith “a female passive” potency in Chaos”.
It, however, does not appear that this is an absolute, but rather a relative determination, for in the final analysis it will be seen that Jehovah is a compound of the male Jah (Je, Ja, Jao, Iah, Yah) and the female Hovah (Havah, Chavvak, Khefa, Eve), and is therefore androgyne, a combination of the active and passive forces in nature, as must be the case sooner or later in the creative act. Nevertheless it is important to follow out the theological consequences of the feminine aspect of Jehovah. Jehovah in the final reduction is Adam-Eve, the androgyne coupling of positive and negative force before their separation. And the Genesis exposition is concerned more immediately with the Eve or feminine counterpart of creation, and only foreshadows the masculine or spiritual.
And the extension of the four-lettered name JHVH into its seven-lettered form, JEHOVAH, indicates the latter as being the full and final physical manifestation of the creative forces in matter. For material creation is always sevenfold.
The point — and this “point” swells to great magnitude in mental dimensions — to be firmly established now is that the Genesis account is the outline of the primary material creation only; or, put a bit differently, an outline of the first or material steps in a creation that was to be consummated by a spiritual creation, to which it was, as Mother, to give birth in future ages. It is the “natural creation”, not the spiritual, and only points to the latter as a thing of future development. St. Paul lays the rule for this order of evolutionary procedure when he says most meaningfully: “First that which is natural, then that which is spiritual”. It is as difficult in theology to say whether spirit or matter was first active in creation as to say whether hen preceded egg or egg hen in “poultry genesis”. Both came into being simultaneously as surely as two halves of any unit object come simultaneously into being at and by the act of cutting. As soon as God had bifurcated in the beginning, there at once stood the two potencies facing each other. There could be no priority, no precedence. But in the actual drama of manifestation, the first on the scene is at any rate matter or substance. Spirit functions behind the scenes, and indeed is supplying the very impulse that brings matter onto the field visibly. Yet as things unfold to our minds, cognizance is taken of the physical expression first.
And this is startlingly borne out in human society wherein the objective world commands attention for a long period before mind is the subject of study. And since matter is the female aspect of life, the mother played a more conspicuous and dominant role in early society than did the father, and we have archaic history showing the precedence of the Matriarchate over the age of male headship. It is a natural if odd fact that the birth of life from the mother is obvious and factual, while the male contribution to the phenomenon is hidden out of sight, and is so far from obviousness that in fact for ages of early human history the male function was not definitely understood or known. Ignorance could not tell that the birth of a child from the mother was the result of a conception engendered before by a male energization.
Casually one must ask in passing whether modern “science” — until perhaps recently— has not been in the same “primitive” ignorance as regards the world of life, when it ascribes all causation to mother matter without being able to rise to the apprehension that the matter it studies so assiduously has first and anciently been impregnated with father spirit or Mind. This is equivalent to taking the birth (of physical nature) for granted without postulating the necessary act of fatherhood! Arcane science tells us that back in the night of time the “ray” of intelligence was shot into the “egg” as the basis for the conception of all things. The planting of the “seed” of spirit in matter is part of the integral mythology of the past.
The creation was, then, effected by the precipitation into activity on the open field of space of the six elementary forces which were to substantialize matter and organize forms. These six, deploying one after the other, were cumulatively to build up a form or body of requisite sensitivity and responsiveness to higher currents which would become the vehicle for a distant manifestation of spiritual consciousness that would round out the cycle of perfection for this creation. The distant goal of the activity was man and spiritual consciousness, the Christ, in man. The Christ is of course to come in his full expression at “the end of the age”. This phrase it is — so disastrously mistranslated “the end of the world” — that has thrown half of Christendom from time to time into confusion and panic. (See such an emotional eruption, for instance, as the famous Millerite delusion in 1843, for a vivid object lesson.) At the end of the cycle or seven minor cycles completing the larger one, the Christ, the Messiah, so long expected among all nations, will consummate a “coming” that is now in progress. And this is a precious bit of sanity to introduce amidst the welter of mistaken theological “prophecies” and vagaries.
To amplify the significance of the fact of the feminine nature of the Jehovistic powers further study must be made of the six creative forces. They were what the Hindus called the Shaktis of the gods. They were the goddesses or female consorts of the divine spiritual energies. For every god had his shakti or force (really matter and its inherent force); otherwise his spiritual ideas or ideals could never come to concrete manifestation in the objective worlds! Spirit (male) needed matter (female) to bring its ideas to birth on the plane of being. Matter is the Mother. This is impregnably rooted in language itself; for the Latin and other language words for mother is MATER (Meter, Mutter, Moder, Madre, Mere, etc.) All this is to establish the fact that the first creation (or the first six aspects of it) was the natural creation, the material (maternal) basis of later creation, and must be essentially characterized as a feminine operation, energized by the powers that philosophically and symbolically must be designated as feminine. It was the creation of and by Mother Nature. Father God was behind the scene, or waiting to manifest himself in the seventh act of the drama. He had cast or was in the act of casting his productive seed into the womb of Mother Nature, and was awaiting the development of the gestating process. The Mother was to bear his Son, the active ray of Intelligence, come to his new childhood in flesh.
In the Gnostic system the Elohim were the children of Sophia, and the name of Ildabaoth, the eldest, means “child of the egg”. They were the active outward expression of those six elemental forces lying latent in the matrix of Nature. Sophia is feminine; and it is therefore a bit of a puzzle as to why the name of Wisdom (Sophia) was given her, since wisdom bespeaks intelligence and that is always typed as masculine. The Greek philosophers dubbed the soul in man “she”. A usually masculine principle was feminized either because it was already a lower and hence material aspect of a still higher intellectual force; or because it was that ray of divine mind that infused itself directly into matter and body, and hence became in a manner identified with it.
With amazing fidelity an Old Testament verse reflects the Gnostic light: “Wisdom hath builded her house; she hath hewn out her seven pillars”. The physical frame of the universe literally rests on seven bases. The seven notes in a complete chord; the seven rays in white light (all things are but condensations of light); the seven-spaced periodicity of atomic weights in the scale of the 92 elements of chemistry; the universal seven-days (or multiple) of gestation periods in animals and man — 280 days — and many another physical fact and law demonstrates this. The concrete structure of creation is framed of seven pillars, seven supports. And modern science has not seen the philosophic import of this fact — has indeed paid little attention to the fact itself.
We have seen that Jehovah is a compound of Jod and Heva, male-female in one. This needs elaboration. This phase of the story refers, by reflection at least, to the inception of the actual racial life on the planet. Some portions of the secret teaching of yore are needed to make intelligible the meaning of the patriarchs in the Bible. Obviously they do not stand for individual men, but are racial types, hinting at the successive stages of development in human history. Adam-Eve (Jod-Hevah) must be taken to represent the first pair in the sense that they were the first union of self-consciousness and material body, spirit and its shakti, in preparation for descent to earth — but not yet descended. They typed the first spiritual man, who along with his shakti, Eve, took form in substance of the higher worlds, before descent. How is this determined? By the simple fact that the pair was at this stage still in Paradise. This surely is heavenly or spiritual consciousness above the plane of matter. It was only as they transgressed in a rather literal sense, that is, stepped across the boundary of disembodied being to reach the surface of sensuous life in body, that they were driven out of Eden. And driven whither? To earth, of course. Adam was, as his prototype Atum in Egypt, the first formation in the worlds above of the mind-in-matter combination. He was the archetypal model in ethereal mold of the earthly man to be. When manifest in the flesh he would be the first creature to unite thinking consciousness with material encasement and thus provide divine mind with an expressive vehicle. The fact that “man” means in Sanskrit “to think” tells the story. Adam was the first created animal that could think. But he did not grow up on top of the animal creation, did not evolve his powers from the orders below. As Adam-Eve he was only an ideal formation in spiritual worlds, and only by successive stages did he become localized and concretized on earth. Formed first as an archetypal model in heaven,he descended or “fell” by stages to earth, as at each step he took on a greater engrossment or materialization of his tenuous nature and correspondingly lost in spiritual character. He fell from the upper plane of the fourth dimension and its type of consciousness to the level of physical body and three-dimensional thought. In Paul�s phrase he was to “come under the law” of physics, chemistry, temperature and pain, because he would be attached to a body that was subject to these influences. So Paul tells us that the “first Adam was made a living soul”, a purely animal creature, whereas in his regeneration by his long experience in the flesh, he would become the “second Adam”, who “was made a quickening spirit”. The reward for the descent of a purely virginal spiritual principle into the headship of earth life was to be an intensification or new growth of the spirit that came to be more vividly actualized on earth. Even divinity must bring itself from Absolute Consciousness — which for us is total unconsciousness — to individual Self-consciousness. And incarnation is the only road to this goal.
Adam-Eve represented the highest stage of spiritual man above. But that phase generated the next, less spiritual, more material, and naturally this second generation is represented by Cain-Abel. And a strange light is thrown on the situation here by the fact that Abel is, as should be, feminine! The slaying of Abel by Cain is just the repetition of the mythical victory of the soul over its counterpart, the fleshly body, in the end. The next stage brought heavenly man a step nearer physical man as Seth or as Cain�s son, Enoch, sometimes paired. In them we have perhaps the first truly human racial types, since man only “landed” fully on earth, with a body composed of basic earth elements, in the end of the third Root Race or the beginning of the fourth. Seth is in all likelihood the Set (Sut, Sat, Satan) of Egypt, who was twinned with Horus, the Christ, the two being ever alternately linked and separated. The Christ and the “devil” are twins, born of the same mother and come into being simultaneously, but alternate in cyclical predominance, now spirit, now matter, having the ascendency, in a rhythm as endless as spring and autumn, day and night.
In the zodiac they are variously represented, really in each sign, since each is double, but chiefly in the twins of Gemini, Castor and Pollux, ever in mortal combat, in which the one must increase and the other decreases. (Cf. John the Baptist�s statement referring to Jesus and himself in this relation.) As Adam fell closer to earth (not of course in direction of motion but in change of constituent texture) he decreased spiritually and increased materially. Spiritual consciousness was more and more heavily overlaid with the change of finer substance to coarser. And like invisible moisture in the air, man�s spiritual self became congealed and crystallized into animal substantiality, as by a reduction of cosmic temperature.
The work of the six creative mother agencies prepared that physical matrix which, in St. Paul�s suggestive language, was to bring to full growth the second Adamic man, or Christ, the Sons of God, or Sons of Mind, taken collectively. Says the Apostle: “All Nature groaneth and travaileth in pain until now . . . . waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God”. Notice his word “Nature”. The natural order was the mother gestating the spiritual. Matter is the mother of the gods. And the gods are to come to birth in the physical bodies of Nature�s highest product, man. Not until man�s body, with highly sensitive nervous system, was evolved in the seventh creation, was a fitting vehicle for Christly vibrations available. Again let extreme idealists be advised — not even omnipotent spirit can function (here) without a vehicle of requisite capability. When physical man is adequately organized to give free play to spiritual energies, the Christ comes into the evolution, and animal man, first Adam, begins his new birth, his transfiguration into a Son of God. That gestation is now in process. The creators worked through six “days” and as their work was done, they rested on the seventh. The seventh creation could not be finished in Genesis — for it was not finished yet! The incubation of divinity in matter, in the body of man, is still in course. The Christos is consummating his gestation in us. It is the cosmic drama “now showing”.
We find in the Genesis narrative exactly what has here been set down. The story itself announces the first creative acts as the far-off preparation for a consummative event in the end of the aeon. It speaks of the “seed of the woman”, and tells the Serpent that this distant “seed” should bruise its head, as it in turn should bruise his heel. This symbolic language portrays the great battle of Armageddon, the cyclical combat between spirit and matter, soul and flesh, in man�s life. But what is the significance of head and heel? Again has theological acumen been inadequate to the task of solving this symbolical riddle. It is simple enough to a student of Neo-Platonic philosophy. There it is stated, in Thomas Taylor�s quaint language: “The summits of secondary natures are most proximate to the bases of superior orders”. This means plainly enough that if the two natures in man, animal and infant divine, are brought into juxtaposition in the same human organism, the point of contact between the two would normally be where the top or head of the lower self touches the feet or heel of the upper man. The picture is symbolical, to be sure. Atlas holding up the heavens on his shoulders is another portrayal of it. If a higher and a lower nature in man are in conflict, the abrasion, the friction,the reciprocal “bruising” must be at the point where the head of the lower touches the heel of the higher. And the Egyptian scripts state that the aeonial battle of Armageddon is fought on this dividing line between the beast and the god in man. The more we permit the Christly power in us to rule, the more completely are the six elemental energies, blind and unconscious, brought into the service of their Lord, the seventh. They are figuratively trampled under his feet. This is the meaning of the Christ�s power to tread on serpents and scorpions, the inferior six powers being typed as the serpent.
Creation was begun in Genesis to be consummated in a climactic episode of the progressive Revelation. Humanity is to uncover this final Revelation when the seven great seals have been one by one opened; when the seven lamps of spiritual capacity have been lighted; when the seven vials of wrath (the lawless, furious natural energies!) and the seven censors containing the Promethean fire of spirit have poured forth their contents over earth amidst the inhabitants thereof; and when the Beast, the animal self, with its seven heads, shall have been chained for an interval of peace at the end of the cycle by the triumphant power of the god in man.
One now sees the sweeping implications of the femininity of the six creative powers. They built up the body of man, not his soul, and the body is the animal, the Beast. But it is also the physical, which is the feminine, the Mother, the Woman. Hence the Dragon-Beast and the Scarlet Woman of Revelation run pretty close to parallel in that symbolism. The six maternal energies comprise the anima or soul of the animal part of mankind. And both the Beast and the Great Harlot, the Woman whose fornicatory ways polluted the nations of the earth, were cast out of the upper worlds. And the Beast pursued the Woman to earth, and let loose a great water flood to overwhelm her, as he went on to make war with her seed; but the “earth helped the Woman and swallowed up the water flood” and saved her. All this imagery relates directly to positive anthropological history; but there is not space here to go into it. Both the animal part of man and matter as contra spirit, gathered in time the connotations of evil character. Asceticism exemplifies the one, and Christian Science, predominantly, the other. But the only “devil” in theology anywhere was the lower animal nature in humanity, for it was held to be in constant opposition to the upper Self of spirit. It is animal and it is feminine. Hence the Scarlet Woman, the Great Harlot, who sat on seven hills, was cast down, and even the seven mountains themselves were thrown down into the sea, which they set on fire! (The introduction of spirit, typed by “fire”, into the bodily man, typed always by “water”, the body being seven-eighths water!). The seven elementary energies of the Beast portion of our nature had to be subjugated and finally dispossessed (by a change of nature) by the spiritual Man who came late as the last brother of the six gods, to be raised eventually to the place of their father and ruler. The seventh son leads the foregoing brethren to the heights. The seven elementary powers, now typed as the Woman, were cast out and her place knew her no more. The primary, natural, physical Mother Creation was finally supplanted by the greater lordship of the second Adam, the fruit of her own womb. This is allegorical as the dethronement of the Woman, and the casting out of the Beast.
We now have to treat of the Serpent and his attack on man through the woman. Our task here is complicated somewhat by the duality of the serpent symbolism. In old scriptures the Serpent or Dragon or water snake, Hydra of the Zodiac, typifies mainly the feminine-physical-evil part of man. But there is also the Serpent of fire, the Serpent of wisdom. The philosophers had both an Agathodaemon, or Good Serpent, and a Kakodaemon, or Evil Serpent. Like all other dual symbols, the two were originally one, without distinction of good or evil. Androgyneity precedes the bifurcation into spirit and matter, good and evil. Good and evil are purely relative terms. It transpires, on sufficient authority, that the tempting Serpent in Genesis is the Good Serpent, not the evil Apap, the water Hydra. But even the Good Serpent leads mankind into the jaws of the Dragon of matter.
But the nature and character of this Good Serpent has not been capably set forth. The study of archaic myth and symbol finds positive data to go upon. He is the Cyclic Law. He is the active power of Life itself. But he is that aspect of Life that swings all created beings round and round through the cycles, — represented by his coils. The Greeks called the circular hole formed by the coils of a snake the Kuklos Anagkes, or Cycle of Necessity. It is the eternal law of evolution that drives all creatures into incarnate life to wake them out of the sleep of unconsciousness. It plunges them all into the maelstroms of periodical embodiment in matter. It is the inexorable law of necessity which brings man down to earth again and again — to learn ever more.
Hence the serpent tempting man through woman is a most illuminating depiction, since it indicates that the law brings matter first onto the scene and then matter lures spirit or the soul into its embrace. It must not be forgotten that the moment Being, God, Life splits unitary selfhood into the two nodes of positive and negative, male and female (“made he them”) there is born a powerful attraction between the two. The love of the sexes in human life is but a faint, though suggestive, hint at the force of the universal cosmic affinity or pull between mind and matter everywhere. It is strong enough to link male-consciousness with female-matter or bodies wherever life finds organic existence. No living things exist save as the result of the union of consciousness with a material body of requisite adaptiveness. Life comes from the union of spirit and matter, with no exceptions.
So the Necessity that whirls life through its cycles tempted matter, the woman, first and she in turn tempted man, and together they were driven down out of the celestial Paradise — to toil on earth. But why the symbol of temptation? Again a misguided theology has worked ruin with a hidden symbolism. Both in the Old Testament and in Jesus� life the myth of temptation has been involved in grossly unwarranted morally evil connotations, as if forsooth God aimed deliberately to trap man and cause his “fall”. The Good Law of life has no intent to “tempt” man, but it does have the very definite intent to “try” him out against resistance, in this case furnished by the inertia of matter. He does intend to pit unevolved powers of consciousness against opposition which is exactly calculated to arouse latent capacity to function. “Temptation” should really be thought of in the form of “tentation” as from the Latin “tento”, to try, try out, test. We are sent here to meet enough opposition to make us grow.
And how does the Serpent of Life tempt man to incarnate? Through the proffered gift of the juice of the fruit of the Tree of Life and Knowledge held in the hand of the Woman. Here again is a symbolic rock over which theology has stumbled most outrageously and been tossed into next to loutish stupidity. And all because it was not known that Jehovah, as feminine, represented the natural forces into which the soul is represented as being lured, as a bit of poetic imagery. Now for the first time it becomes clear why these Jehovah powers, non-sentient, non-intelligent, purely material energies, balk at forming man as a spiritual being, and refuse to sanction his drinking of the juice of the fruit of the forbidden Tree which the Woman, physical life, holds out to lure him. The reason is obvious and clear. They could not! They could not endow man with the intellectual faculties or capacities which they themselves did not possess! Their recalcitrancy in undertaking to frame spiritual man is unmistakably shown by their statement of disinclination to make man capable of becoming equal to the gods. They disclaimed responsibility for the venture.
It is silly, of course, to anthropomorphize, to read human experience into cosmic transactions. Yet there is a measure of something in the conduct of the lower Hebdomad of creative powers which suggests what we would have to call “jealousy”. They seemed to fear that man would get ahead of them in evolution. And oddly enough, this surmise finds confirmation in a passage found in Irenaeus, bk. 1,ch. XXX - 6. Ildabaoth, who as the first of the seven expressions of the lower septenary, is considered their father, boasts that he is “Father and God and there is no one above me”. Whereupon his Mother, Sophia Achamoth, daughter of Sophia, rebukes his presumption by saying, “Do not lie, Ildabaoth, for the Father of all, the first man (Anthropos) is above thee, and so is Anthropos, the son of Anthropos”. (Anthropos is the Greek word for “man”.) Realizing that if man, the thinking light from Mind above, took the plunge into flesh and achieved his conscious actualization thereby, he would rise far superior to any nature powers, the latter warn him of the dangerous ordeal he will have to undergo. “For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” is their cry. Man�s descent into physical life would be his “death”. Here lurks one of those occult keys to scriptural meaning, without a knowledge of which it has been impossible to follow the allegory with understanding. As we have decisively shown in the fourth lecture in this series, The Lost Meaning of Death, the arcane philosophical meaning of the terms “death” and “to die” was (for the soul) to incarnate. To leave heaven and come to live in the prison of a physical body on earth was “to die”. So we hear the inferior powers warning man off from his adventure in matter by saying to him: This will mean a veritable death to you; exile from heaven, captivity in the prison of a sluggish physical body of inert matter, bondage in “Egypt”, feeding on the husks that the swine do eat, earning your bread by the sweat of your brow, bearing children in pain. We advise you not to eat of the Tree. St. Paul echoes this same refrain when he writes: “The command that meant life proved death to me”. Knowledge of Good and Evil can not be had without descending into that incarnate death where spirit and matter form the cross. And so once more lucid meaning of vast significance to the race comes to precise delineation under the application of the lost keys to religious truth. The path to cosmic reality lies through the domain of the relative, where the contrast between the “pairs of opposites”, spirit and matter, opens the eyes to know Good and Evil.
Then comes the Serpent�s (Life�s) answer to the lower forces: Do not believe Jehovah. He (she) has spoken falsely. Heed me rather. I tell you that if you eat of the fruit of this Tree of Life and Knowledge, you shall not surely die. On the contrary, you shall become as gods, knowing Good and Evil. Evolution intends you to become gods.
And the Serpent, like Sophia Achamoth, accuses Jehovah of lying, for he says bluntly: “For God (Jehovah) doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”. And then follows a statement in the text that should long ago have removed from the Serpent the imputation of wicked guile, and from the Woman the stigma of being weakly caught in a baited trap. We are assured that she made her choice deliberately, for the text reads: “And when the woman saw the tree was good for food, and that is was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat . . . .” She was not beguiled but acted in reference to what she saw.
In most of the religious myths of creation the gods themselves freely offer to man the cup of juice drained from the Tree. In the Egyptian representation the goddess Hathor, equivalent to Eve, is shown holding out the cup to the man. It is of decided interest to know that the tree whose sap was considered most potent to open the eyes of man was the sycamore-fig. Now the tree, as symbol, stands as a type of woman, the feminine, or physical life, the primary form-building forces. So then, until this Woman, physical Nature, has produced the Sons of Mind, she is regarded or typed as barren! And in this light Jesus� curse upon the barren fig tree. The “curse” is of course a mere dramatization of Mind�s rebuke to Nature for not yet having given birth to its superior genius.
The tree is a type of woman because, like the woman, it bears fruit. And another vivid feature of the allegory is that the juice of the fruit of Life�s Tree is portrayed as intoxicating. But this intoxication is used to symbolize, not the shattering of wits, but divine transport, exalted ecstasy, the rapture of higher spiritual consciousness. Noah�s getting drunk from the grapes of his vineyard after the flood hints at the same thing. Man, draining the cup of wine from the Tree of Life, is to become intoxicated with divinity. And further, the drink will make him immortal. Runs a tribal chant:
quaffed the soma bright,
And are immortal grown;
We�ve entered into light,
And all the gods have known.
And the wine must be offered Man by Woman for the unimpeachable reason that spirit can not partake of creative life save through the mediumship of matter. Is not woman man�s creative opportunity?
Further proof that Genesis is only the first act of a drama that was to have its finale in an evolutionary sequel or Revelation is seen in the pertinent fact that the same Tree that is found in the opening chapters of the Bible is brought in again, like the character in a play, in the last chapter of that same Bible. In Revelation�s final chapter (22) the Tree of Life is described in beautiful language. And there is a statement about it which authenticates the correctness of our interpretation of the Jehovistic “forbidden fruit”. For here it is expressly stated that man “may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” — the classical city of higher consciousness. The second chapter of the Bible ostensibly forbids man to eat of the fruit of Life�s Tree; but the last chapter affirms his right to do so. The contradiction is resolved by the esoteric interpretation, as given, which also saves us from having to impute to God himself the inconsistency or irrationality of refusing to man the path of life experience — the Tree — by which alone man could advance in normal evolution. Also, on the basis of common theology, we have had to suppose that the Serpent insulted us by assuring us that our earthly adventure would evolve us into gods! And the Church that thus denied us our nobility, our divinity, stands today largely paralyzed by the defection of thousands of its communicants who have gone after a host of modern “cults” which are wise enough to give us back that divinity.
In Jewish tradition there was the legend that the wood of the Genesis Tree would be preserved to become the cross on which the Messiah was to be crucified. But it was the same Tree all the time. Paul speaks of “this Jesus whom ye slew and hanged on a tree”. But assuredly Paul is not speaking of tree in the sense of the beams of a wooden cross. He was familiar with the symbolic language of the day, and had in mind the Tree as symbol of the flowing, branching streams of the river of Life force, rooted in matter but branching high to heaven. The tree as a wooden cross was a trick of later Christian literalism, when the allegory was turned into ostensible “history”.
The location of the garden in the Bible text as “eastward in Eden” needs a moment�s explication. East and west have very definite significations in the language of symbol. The East, as the place of the rising sun, types the return of life from immersion in matter to the free light of spirit. It is therefore where spirits rest in heavenly retirement. So the garden of Paradise or celestial being is eastward. The soul, beginning to move toward its next immersion, would move toward the West, for descent into the “night” of incarnation. And so to go west would be to “die”.
And now comes the creation of woman from the man�s rib. Even a rampant zeal for literalizing the scriptures balked at taking this operation as factual. It was too patently absurd. But what does it mean?
The true sense may be arrived at through etymology. Our starting point is one of Grimm�s laws of phonetic change relating the letters p, b, f, and v. “Rib” was at first “rif” or “riff”. Shakespeare writes “midrib” as “midrif”. “Rif” suggests “rift”, a cleavage, a splitting of a thing into two by a rift. We no longer use the old word “rive”, to cut or cleave open, but its past participle has survived, “riven”, cleft or split. The hymns sing of Christ�s “riven side”.
Now the meaning comes clear when we consider that the extracting of the rib was the integral operation by which unit Godhead bisected itself into male and female polarity. But the Genesis account states the cosmic act awkwardly. There is hardly any doubt that the intent of the symbolist was to say, not that God extracted a rib from Adam and out of it formed woman, but that he separated the female side of himself from the male by running a midrib through the heart of his Adamic or as yet undivided Being. He split woman apart from man by means of a rib run down the middle of himself. This reading fulfils every condition of the situation, and for the first time renders the sense intelligently clear.
The rift thus made is elsewhere in the Bible called “the cleft in the Rock”. And this lends additional support for the thesis advanced.
Perhaps it is still possible to translate the figure in a way to conform with the words of the text, without departing from the obvious meaning. If we would consider the (mid)rib of Adam�s nature as holding the two sides of his duality together before the bifurcation, as the midbone of a fish holds its two halves in a unity, then the division might be thought of in terms of a removal of the rib to let the two parts go asunder.
After the descent to earth the man and woman saw themselves “naked” and registered shame. This is significant likewise. There are two typical phenomena attendant upon the soul�s descent to body and later re-ascent to spirit. They are called “divestiture” and the “investiture”. Ancient theology portrayed a very real event by the typology of the soul�s putting on a heavier garment at each step of its descent, and its throwing off this garment at each step of its return on high. Each step downward involved its being clothed in a garment of coarser matter. Yet the putting on of grosser bodies was in effect the same as putting off its more real if less material bodies of spiritual glory. So from the standpoint of spiritual clothing they found themselves after descent utterly stripped. In the Old Testament a verse speaks of being “clothed with light as with a garment”. In matter they found themselves unclothed, naked. And to stand thus spiritually bereft was a thing of degradation, hence shame. Before their descent, while yet in Eden, they perceived themselves “naked” (of material garments) and they were not ashamed!
So, when their opened eyes revealed their privation, after the “fall”, they hastened to cover their nakedness with the leaves — of all trees! — of the symbolic fig tree! The fig symbols motherhood or material embodiment; and other myths depict man, when in incarnation, the realm of the Mother-matter, as putting on female clothing, or passing through his female phase, even manifesting the menstrualia as evidence of his having come under the law of periodicity which governs matter.
The “deep sleep” of Adam during which God removed the rib is a reference to that phenomenon which accompanies the descent from one plane to the next which is described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The soul is described as “swooning”, after which it wakes up to find itself on the plane below. As the bifurcation took place before Adam began the descent, it would be appropriate to the time of the “swoon”. However, the entire period of non-embodiment or Pralaya is often termed a sleep, and this may be the more general reference.
There has now been presented a cursory treatment of every essential aspect of the great Genesis myth. It is hoped that the darkness of unintelligibility that has enveloped this assemblage of allegorical matter has been in large measure dispelled. It may now be seen that all the piety in the world would never have unlocked the mysteries hidden behind the cabalistic alphabet of occult truth. The keys to these secrets lay in the hands of Comparative Religion and Mythology all the while.
But a far more impressive outcome of the study should be a recognition, in overwhelming force, of the stultification of the mass mind by the gross misinterpretations of symbolic spiritual drama. To have plunged the world for long centuries into a weird distortion of its whole philosophy of life by the dousing of intellectual light that once shone for all worthy seekers must be seen to be a calamity of the first magnitude. And the thoughtful reader may well ponder how much of medieval barbarity (especially manifested in the field of that religion that had snuffed out the ancient candle light!); how much of modern brute mechanistic heartlessness of human society; and how much of present universal befuddlement in things philosophic and spiritual, must be traced to the obscuration of human intelligence by the unconscionable distortion of the meaning of the myths of wisdom. The feeling must be strong in minds of many that the Bible, unless interpreted esoterically by its ancient recondite keys and as spiritual allegory, will continue to stand, not as a light unto the feet, but as the strong fortress of superstition and bigotry. From the priesthood comes ever and anon the cry for more Bible study. But so long as it is not to be more enlightened than that of the past, it will but magnify stupidity and intensify blindness. What is needed is to let out the light that shines through the symbols. Let there be light — from Genesis to Revelation!
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