^87:1 This section continues and elucidates the argument of section IX. An acquaintance with occult doctrine regarding the Nature-spirits, or mundane Gods, will, I think, enable the reader to follow intelligently the observations of Hermes in regard to the sacred images. Precisely the same virtues as those attributed by the ancients to the idols of their various deities, are in our day attributed by Catholics to the idols of their saints. We hear of the "Virgin" of this or that town being propitious to a petition which the "Virgin" of some other place has refused to grant. Sacred images still heal the sick, avert pestilences, discover hidden springs, and confer blessings upon devotees. [p. 88] Hermes points out that the powers by which these things are accomplished belong to the divinity of Nature, individualised and differentiated by human intervention; and that mankind necessarily passes through the stage of nature-worship before becoming competent to realise the celestial order and the being of the heavenly Gods. For before the empyrean can be reached by the human intelligence, it must traverse the spheres intermediate between earth and heaven. Thus the images of the Gods are worshipped before the Gods themselves are known; nor are these images necessarily of wood or stone. All personalities are eidola (idols) reflecting the true essentials, and having, as it were, a portion of Divinity attached to them and resident in their forms, but none the less are they images, and however powerful and adorable they may appear to the multitude who know not divine religion, they are to the Hermetist but types and persona of essentials which are eternally independent of manifestation and unaffected by it. The signs of the truly Divine are three: transcendency of form, transcendency of time, transcendency of personality. Instead of form is Essence; instead of time, Eternity; instead of persons, Principles. Events become Processes, and phenomena, Noumena. So long as the conception of any divine idea remains associated with, or dependent on, any physical or historical circumstance, so long it is certain that the heavenly plane has not been reached. Symbols, when they are recognised as symbols, are no longer either deceptive or dangerous; they are merely veils of light rendering visible the "Divine Dark," towards which the true Hermetist aspires. Even the most refined, the subtlest and most metaphysical expression of the supreme Truth is still symbol and metaphor, for the Truth itself is unutterable, save by God to God. It is Essence, Silence, Darkness.
The Virgin of the World, by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, , at sacred-texts.com
O TRISMEGISTOS, what is the part taken in the order of things by Destiny or Fate? If the heavenly Gods rule the universe, and the mundane deities control special events, where is the part of Destiny?[Hermes: [p. 91]
O Asclepios, Destiny is the necessity which compels all things that happen, the chain which binds together all events. It is thus the cause of things, the supreme deity, or rather the second God created by God, that is the law of all things in heaven and earth established upon divine ordinances. Destiny and Necessity are bound together indissolubly: Destiny produces the beginning of all things, Necessity enforces the effect which ensues from these beginnings. And hence arises Order--that is, the sequence and disposition of things accomplished in Time; for nothing is performed without Order. And thus the world is perfected; for the world is founded on Order, and in Order the universe consists. Therefore these three, Destiny (which is Fate), Necessity, and Order, depend absolutely on the will of God Who governs the world by His divine law and reason. These three principles have no will in themselves; inflexible and inaccessible to favour as to anger, they are but the instruments of the eternal Reason, which is immutable, invariable, unalterable, indissoluble. First comes Destiny, containing, like newly-sown soil, the germs of future events. Necessity follows, urging them to their consummation. Lastly, Order maintains the fabric of things established by Destiny and Necessity. For all this is an ever-lasting sequence without beginning or end, sustained by its immutable law in the continuity of eternity. It rises and falls alternately, and as time rolls onward, that which had disappeared, again rises uppermost. For such is the condition of the circular movement; all things are interchained in such wise that neither[beginning [p. 92]
beginning nor end can be distinguished, and they appear to precede and follow each other unceasingly. But as for accident and chance, they pervade all mundane affairs.
The Virgin of the World, by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, , at sacred-texts.com
AND now, inasmuch as it is given to man, and inasmuch as God has permitted, we have spoken concerning everything; it re-mains only, therefore, that we should bless and pray to God and return to our mortal cares, having satisfied our minds by treating of sacred things which are the food of the mind.
* * * *
Therewith, coming forth from the Sanctuary, they addressed to God their oraisons, turning themselves to the south, because when the sun begins to decline, he who would praise the God should direct his gaze thither, as in like manner, at sunrise, he should look towards the orient. And even while they pronounced their invocations, Asclepios, in a low voice, spoke thus:[O Tatius, [p. 93]
O Tatius, let us ask our father that our prayers may be accompanied with odours of incense and perfumes.
Trismegistos heard, and was moved.
May the omen be favourable, O Asclepios, he said. It is almost a sacrilege to burn incense or any other perfume during prayer; He Who is all and Who contains all, desires nothing. Let us give Him praise and adoration only; the divinest odours are acts of grace which mortals render to God.
We give Thee thanks, O Lord Most High, for by Thy grace we have received the light of Thy knowledge; may Thy Name be adored and venerated, only Name by which Deity is praised according to the religion of our fathers! For Thou dost vouchsafe to accord to all of us the ancestral faith, piety, love, and the most worthy and gracious gifts, in that Thou bestowest upon us consciousness, reason, and intelligence. By consciousness we discern Thee, by reason we seek Thee, and intelligence endows us with the joy of understanding Thee. Saved by Thy divine power, let us be glad in beholding the manifestation of Thyself; let us be glad that, from the hour of our sojourn in the body, Thou dost deign to consecrate us to eternity. The only joy of Man is the knowledge of Thy majesty. We have known Thee, O magnificent Light, who art apprehended by Intelligence alone! We have known Thee, O true Way of Life, inexhaustible Source of all births! We have known Thee, O generative Plenitude of all Nature, Eternal Permanence! And in this our oraison, adoring the sanctity of Thy holiness, we ask of Thee only to grant that we may persevere in the love of Thy knowledge, in such wise that we may never[separate [p. 94]
separate ourselves from this manner of life. With which hope being filled, we go forth to take a pure repast without animal flesh. [*1] [p. 95] [p. 96]
^94:1 The words with which this Discourse on Initiation ends are full of significance. The key to the Hermetic Secret is found when the aspirant adopts the Edenic Life: the life of purity and charity which all mystics--Hebrew, Egyptian, Buddhist, Greek, Latin, Vedic, with one consent, ascribe to man in the golden age of his primeval perfection. The first outcome of the Fall, or Degeneracy, is the shedding of blood and eating of flesh. The license to kill is the sign-manual of "Paradise Lost." And the first step towards "Paradise Regained" is taken when man voluntarily returns to the manner of life indicated by his organism as that alone befitting him, and thus reunites himself to the harmony of Nature and the Will of God. No man who follows this path and faithfully keeps to it will fail to find at length the Gate of Paradise. Not necessarily in a single life-time, for the process of purification is a long one, and the past experiences of some men may be such as to shut them out for many lives from the attainment of the promised land. But, nevertheless, every step faithfully and firmly trodden, brings them nearer to the goal, every year of pure life increasingly strengthens the spirit, purges the mind, liberates the will, and augments their human royalty. On the other hand, it is idle to seek union with God in the Spirit, while the physical and magnetic organism remains insurgent against Nature. Harmony must be established between man and Nature before union can be accomplished between man and God. For Nature is the manifest God; and if man be not in perfect charity with that which is visible, how shall he love that which is invisible? Hermetic doctrine teaches the kinship and solidarity of all beings, redeemed and glorified in man. For man does not stand aloof and apart from other creatures, as though he were a fallen angel dropped from some supernal world upon the earth, but he is the child of earth, the product of evolution, the elder brother of all conscient things; their lord and king, but not their tyrant. It is his part to be to all creatures a Good Destiny; he is the keeper, the redeemer, the regenerator of the earth. If need be, he may call on his subjects to serve him as their king, but he may never, without forfeiting his kingship, maltreat and afflict them. All the children of God, in every land and age, have abstained from blood, in obedience[to [p. 95]
to an occult law which asserts itself in the breast of all regenerate men. The mundane Gods are not averse to blood, for by means of it they are invigorated and enabled to manifest. For the mundane Gods are the forces of the astral element in man, which element dominates in the unregenerate. Therefore, the unregenerate are under the power of the stars, and subject to illusion. Inasmuch as a man is clean from the defilement of blood, insomuch he is less liable to be beguiled by the deceptions of the astral serpent. Therefore, let all who seek the Hermetic secret, do their utmost to attain to the Hermetic life. If entire abstinence from all forms of animal food be impossible, let a lower degree be adopted, admitting the use of the least bloody meats only--milk, fish, eggs, and the flesh of birds. But in such a case, let the intention of the aspirant be continually united with that of Nature, willing with firm desire to lead, whenever possible, a yet more perfect life; so that in a future birth he may be enabled to attain to it.
The Virgin of the World, by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, , at sacred-texts.com[p. 97] [p. 98]
The Definitions of Asclepios.[p. 99] [p. 100] [p. 101]
DEFINITIONS OF ASCLEPIOS.
Asclepios to the King Ammon.
I ADDRESS to thee, O King, a comprehensive discourse, [*1] which is, as it were, the sum and epitome of all others. Far from being in accordance with the opinion of the vulgar, it is wholly adverse thereto. Even to[thee, [p. 102]
thee, it may seem inconsistent with certain of my discourses. My master, Hermes, who frequently conversed with me, either alone, or in the presence of Tatios, was wont to say that those who should read my writings would affirm their doctrine to be quite simple and clear, while indeed, on the contrary, it is truly occult and contains a hidden sense. And it has become yet more obscure since the Greeks undertook to translate it from our language into theirs. This has been a source of difficulty and perversion of sense. The character of the Egyptian language, and the energy of the words it uses, enforce the meaning on the mind. As much then as thou canst, O King, and indeed thou art all-powerful, prevent this discourse from being translated, lest these mysteries should reach the Greeks, and their manner of speech, adorned and elegant in expression, should, perchance, weaken the vigour and diminish the solemn gravity and force of these words. The Greeks, O King, have new forms of language for producing argument, and their philosophy is prodigal of speech. We, on the other hand, employ not words so much as the great language of facts.
I will begin this discourse by invoking God, the Master of the Universe, the Creator and the Father, Who contains all, Who is All in One, and One in All. For the plenitude of all things is Unity, and in Unity; nor is the one term inferior to the other, since the two are one. Bear in mind this thought, O King, during the whole of my exposition. Vain is it to seek to distinguish the All and the One by designating the multitude of things the All, and not their Plenitude. Such a distinction is impossible, for the All exists no longer if separated from Unity; and if Unity exists,[it [p. 103]
it is in the Totality; now it indeed exists and never ceases to be One, otherwise the Plenitude would be dissolved.
In the bosom of the earth there are impetuous springs of water and of fire; such are the three natures of fire, water, and earth, proceeding from a common origin. Whereby it may be thought that there is one general fountain of matter, bringing forth all abundantly and receiving existence from on high. It is thus that heaven and earth are governed by their creator, that is, by the sun, who causes essence to stream downwards, and matter to rise upwards, and who draws to himself the universe, giving all to everything, lavish of the benefits of his radiance. It is he who distributes beneficent energies not only in heaven and throughout the air, but upon earth also, and even in the depths of
the abyss. If there be an intelligible substance, it must be the very substance of the sun, whose light is the vehicle thereof. But what may be its constitution and primal fount, he only knows. That by induction we may understand that which is hidden from our sight, it would be necessary to be near him and analogous to his nature. But that which he permits us to behold is no conjecture; it is the splendid vision which illuminates the universal and supernal world.
In the midst of the universe is the sun established, like the bearer of the crowns; and even as a skilful driver, he directs and maintains the chariot of the world, holding it to its course. He keeps fast the reins of it, even life, soul, spirit, immortality, and birth. He drives it before him, or, rather, with him. And after this manner he forms all things, dispensing to immortals eternal permanence. The light, which from[his [p. 104]
his outer part streams towards heaven, nourishes the immortal spaces of the universe. The rest, encircling and illuminating the entirety of the waters, the earth, and the air, becomes the matrix wherein life germinates, wherein are initiated all births and metamorphoses, transforming creatures, as by a spiral motion, and causing them to pass from one portion of the world to another, from one species to another, and from one appearance to another; maintaining the equilibrium of their mutual metamorphoses, as in the creation of greater entities. For the permanence of bodies consists in transmutation. But immortal forms are indissoluble, and mortal bodies decompose; such is the difference between the immortal and the mortal.