[An Allegory, and Mysteries of Initiation]
Theosophist, November, 1882
Selection from the Article “Gleanings from Eliphas Levi: Extracts from the Introduction to the Dogme de le Haute Magie” | Notes by H.P.B.
After the colossal fable of Œdipus we meet with the graceful poem of Psyche, of which Apuleus is certainly not the inventor. The great magical secret here reappears under the guise of the mysterious marriage between a God and a feeble girl abandoned, alone and naked, on a rock. Psyche must remain ignorant of the secret of her ideal Royalty, and if she looks at her husband she loses him.1 Apuleus here gives a commentary on, and an interpretation of the allegories of Moses, but the Elohim of Israel and the gods of Apuleus, did not both equally issue from the sanctuaries of Memphis and Thebes? Psyche is the sister of Eve, or rather Eve spiritualized. Both desire to know and forfeit innocence to gain the honour of the trial. Both deserve to descend into Hell,—the one to bring thence the old box Pandora, the other there to seek and there to crush the head of the old serpent, which is the symbol of time and of evil. Both commit the crime that in the old times, Prometheus, and in the Christian legend, Lucifer, have to expiate, the one delivered the other subjected by Hercules and by the Saviour.
The great magical secret is therefore the lamp and the dagger of Psyche, the apple of Eve, the sacred fire stolen by Prometheus, and the burning scepter of Lucifer, but it is also the holy cross of the Redeemer. To know enough of it to divulge or misuse it, is to deserve all punishments; to know it as it should be known, to use and hide it is to be Master of the Absolute.2
1. Cupid, the god, is the seventh principle or the Brahm of the Vedantin, and Psyche is its vehicle, the sixth or spiritual soul. As soon as she feels herself distinct from her “consort”—and sees him—she loses him. Study the “Heresy of Individuality”—and you will understand.
2. In the Christian legend, the “Redeemer” is the “Initiator” who offers his life in sacrifice for the privilege of teaching his disciples some great truths. He, who unriddles the Christian sphinx, “becomes the Master of the Absolute” for the simple reason that the greatest mystery of all the ancient initiations—past, present, and future—is made plain and divulged to him. Those who accept the allegory literally, will remain blind all their life and those, who divulge it to the ignorant masses, deserve punishment for their want of discretion in seeking to “feed pigs with pearls.” The THEOSOPHIST—read but by the intelligent who, when they understand it, prove that they deserve as much of the secret knowledge as can be given them—is permitted to throw out a hint. Let him, who would fathom the mystery of the allegory of both Sphinx and Cross, study the modes of initiation of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, ancient Jews, Hindus, etc. And then he will find what the word “Atonement”—far older than Christianity—meant, as also “the Baptism of Blood.” At the last moment of the Supreme Initiation, when the Initiator had divulged the last mysterious word, either the Hierophant or the “newly born,” the worthier of the two, had to die, since two Adepts of equal power must not live, and he, who is perfect, has no room on earth. Eliphas Levi hints at the mystery in his volumes without explaining it. Yet he speaks of Moses who dies—mysteriously, disappears from the top of Mount Pisgah after he had “laid his hands” upon the initiated Aaron; of Jesus who dies for the disciple “whom he loved,” John the author of the Apocalypse, and of John the Baptist—the last of the real Nazars of the Old Testament (see Isis, Vol. II, p. 132), who, in the incomplete, contradictory, and tortured Gospel accounts, is made to die later through Herodiaadi’s whim, and, in the secret Kabalistic documents of the Nabathaeans, to offer himself as an expiatory victim after “baptizing” (i.e., initiating) his chosen successor in the mystic Jordan. In these documents, after the initiation Aba, the Father, becomes the Son, and the Son succeeds the Father and becomes Father and Son at the same time, inspired by Sophia Achamoth (secret wisdom) transformed later on into the Holy Ghost. But this successor of John the Baptist was not Jesus, the Nazarenes say. But of this anon. To this day, the initiation beyond the Himalayas is followed by temporary death (from three to six months) of the disciple, often that of the Initiator; but the Buddhists do not spill blood, for they have a horror of it, knowing that blood attracts “evil powers.” At the initiation of the Chhinnamasta Tantrikas (from chhinna “severed” and masta “head”—the Goddess Chhinnamasta being represented with a decapitated head), the Tantrik Shastras say that, as soon as the Adept has reached the highest degree of perfection, he has to initiate his successor and—die, offering his blood as an atonement for the sins of his brothers. He must “cut off his own head with the right hand, holding it in the left.” Three streams of blood gush out from the headless trunk. One of these is directed into the mouth of the decapitated head (“ . . . my blood is drink indeed”—the injunction in John that so shocked the disciples); the other is directed toward the earth as an offering of the pure, sinless blood to mother Earth; and the third gushes toward heaven as a witness for the sacrifice of “self-immolation.” Now, this has a profound Occult significance which is known only to the initiated; nothing like the truth is explained by the Christian dogma, and imperfectly as they have defined it, the quasi-inspired “Authors of the Perfect Way” reveal the truth far nearer than any of the Christian commentators.