“Ecce, concipies in utero, et paries filium, et vocabis nomen ejus JESUM. Hic erit magnus, et Filius Altissimi vocabitur; et dabit illi Dominus Deus sedem David patri ejus; et regnabit in domo Jacob in aeternum; et regni ejus non erit finis.” – Luke I, 31-33. (2)
In Christian dogma, esoteric as well as exoteric, the personality of the Holy Virgin is the highest and most important next to that of her Son.
Just as the life and Passion of Christ constitute a representation of and correspond to the interior progress and trials of the mystic, so also the acts and grace of the Holy Virgin find their corresponding expression in a similar way.
If Christ sets humanity free from the curse of Adam, so that the Apostle calls him the second Adam in whom all men are made alive, Mary sets us free from the curse of Eve by expiating through perfect obedience the disobedience of the latter. Thus the promise made to Eve is transferred to Mary, who, as second Eve, crushes the head of the serpent and becomes the Mother of God. Both arcanum and symbol remain identical, so that Eve and Mary stand for one and the same principle in man. This principle is the Soul, – anima divina – the interior and spiritual Self which all mystical writers consider as feminine, and which, through union with the descending Influx of the Holy Ghost, conceives in him (man) the divine life and brings forth Emmanuel, the God-in-us. (3)
Esoterically and mystically, the subject of sacred history is the Soul.
In the Old Testament, the soul is depicted, in the first place, as Eve, emerging radiant in beauty and purity from the hands of the Creator. Tempted by the adversary, she yields to his cunning devices. Rejected from Paradise, she is subjected to the bonds of enslavement and suffering. Yet in the very hour of her condemnation she is upheld by the promise of redemption and divine motherhood. In the second place, in the New Testament, she reappears under the figure of Mary, of illustrious lineage, “highly favoured.” Greeted with the reversed name of Eve (Ave); overshadowed by the virtue of the Most-High; bearing in her own virgin bosom the Son of the Almighty; taking part in His sufferings, His sacrifice, and His victory; witness of His ascension; recipient of the gift of the Paraclete; assumed into Heaven; and crowned with the twelve stars as the twelve fruits of the spirit. (1)
There is not a single feature of the story of Eve and of that of Mary, which is its sequel, that is not truly applicable to the soul of man; and were it not for this fact, there would be in these stories nothing to relate them to man’s spiritual welfare. “Truly unfortunate,” says the Zohar, “is he who sees in sacred history nothing further than a simple narrative.” Each word of the law has a divine meaning, and veils a mystery entirely sublime. History is only the garment of the law. The sages and servants of the Supreme King – they who dwell upon the heights of Sinai – take account only of the soul, which is the foundation of all the rest.
Every sinner can witness in his own interior experience a representation of the grievous drama of the fall. Every saint re-enacts in his regenerate life the mystery of the Holy Virgin’s Rosary. Within him, the soul travels through every stage in turn of the joys, of the sorrows, and of the glories of Mary. Even as without Mary there can be no Christ, so without the soul there can be no divine life. Therefore the part which is assigned to Mary in the gospel of the Christian religion is that which is enacted by the soul in the interior of the mystic. That which seduces the soul in the first place and lures her into the evil path, is the attraction of the illusory world, symbolised under the figure
of the serpent with its glittering coils and the fascinating power of its eyes.
It is by yielding to this attraction that the soul leaves heavenly realities for the shadows of the terrestrial world, and drags down in her fall the intellect of man (Adam). Intellect and soul fall together, and lose the twofold faculty of desiring and apprehending divine things. No longer in harmony with the latter, they are placed outside divine conditions, and are henceforth conscious of their material surroundings only. That which constitutes sin and the fall, is the substitution of the illusory for the real. That which is the gain of regeneration, is the restitution of the power to love and apprehend again the real. The original sin of which Mary was free, is precisely this state of blindness which prevents cognition of heavenly things and closes to the soul’s perception the world of truth and of the Absolute. It is not possible that divine life be generated in a soul afflicted with such blindness. Christ can be conceived only in the Virgin-Immaculate. The converted soul passes from the state of fall into the state of regeneration, and through that very fact becomes virgin, that is to say, no longer entangles herself in material and illusory conditions. She is delivered from earthly attachments; she has rejected the yoke of her companion Adam, compelled to till the earth, in order to be espoused to the Holy Spirit. And as Eve has accepted the annunciation of the serpent, so does Mary accept the annunciation of the Angel. In other words, just as the soul in her frailty has, by preferring the material to the spiritual, yielded to the temptation of illusion, so also the soul in her virtue obeys the voice of angelical nature, and prefers virginity or the spiritual life to dealings with matter.
Western mystics and Hermetists distinguish four separate elements in man – body, mind, soul, and spirit. The alchemists say that the human kingdom is divided into four parts or hypostatic relations called “elements.” In The Golden Treatise of Hermes, it is stated that the third part of this kingdom is coagulated, but that the rest is fluidic. “Our stone, writes the author, is the resultant of many things, its colours (tinctures) are varied and compounded of four elements. (...) Thou must know that the hen’s egg is that which will best help thee to an understanding of the nearness and relatedness of substance to nature. For therein is found a spirituality and a conjunction of the elements and an earth the colour of which is gold.” And in fact, if the egg is examined from its external to its internal texture, it
is seen to be composed of a shell which corresponds to the body of man, of a fluidic, plastic mass which represents his mental or astral part, of the golden yolk which is the figure of his soul or spiritual individuality, and within this yolk is found the white germ which corresponds to the divine vitality of the Spirit.
It would seem that Christ stated this fourfold division when He compared the Kingdom of God to a little leaven which the woman – the Divine Wisdom – took and hid in three measures of meal [flour], – the body, the mind, and the soul, – until the mass had risen, that is, until the whole being had been penetrated by and transformed through the working of the Spirit. This image is entirely alchemical, and sums up the arcanum of transmutation, which is the central doctrine of alchemy. The divine life or leaven operates in the soul as a ferment which gradually, and through her, acts first upon the mind, and then upon the physical man, until the whole individuality is “highly favoured” (gratia plena, lit. full of grace), and passes from corruption into incorruptibility. Now it is ever in the soul that this heavenly influence is first felt; it cannot be born in the mind or astral man, still less in the bodily sense; and, as we have already seen, the soul must be in a special state of grace or favour, that is to say, polarised towards divine conditions, before the Divine Child can be conceived within her. The third element – or the soul – being in this state of grace, is, therefore, the kingdom of man, – the human kingdom, – the counterpart of the Holy Virgin. Her Son is the fourth element, or the express Image of the person of the Eternal (One), the Divine Life formed and incarnate as concrete expression of the Deity. It is thus that we read in another part of the Scriptures, “the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Dan. iii. 25).
We have said that the acts and the glory of Mary find their corresponding expression in the regenerate life of the saint. What then are these acts and this glory? The Gospels tell us very few of Mary’s acts, apart from those of her Son. And it is so, because the special characteristic of the holy and regenerate soul is humility, the suppression of the personal I (I-hood) to the profit of the Divine Self (I AM); the absorption of the human into the heavenly, the surrender of the created for the uncreate.
All the acts of the Son are the acts of Mary; but none belongs to her, as her own. She has part in the birth of her Son, in His manifestation, in His passion, in His resurrection, in His ascension, in His Pentecost, and He is her gift to the world. But it is always
He who operates, while she merely
entreats, consents, and responds. It is through the mediation of Mary that her
Son overflows into the mind and body of man.
The Christ, being of divine nature and heavenly origin, by His own power causes her to ascend. She is nothing of herself. He is her all in all. Where He dwells, there she must also be lifted by the force of the divine union which makes her one with Him. Thus bound to Him and penetrated by His Spirit, she no longer can remain among earthly conditions, in the realms of illusion. She is dead to material things, she lives only in the spiritual things. She leaves the atmosphere of the earth, carried upwards by the angelical nature wherewith she is clothed; she rises into Heaven, attracted by God. Henceforth she enjoys this divine estate which alone can develop her affinities; she dwells in the Real, and has for ever done with illusion. In the mystery of the Incarnation, which makes Mary the Mother of God, there is a conjunction of human force with divine force. Mary receives her Child by an act of heavenly energy (on her part) which brings about the conception of the Holy of Holies. (...) The divine life incarnate (or Emmanuel) does not spring up spontaneously or of necessity. It is the result of the conjunction of two forces, the union of the divine and the human. (1) The soul is as transparent glass exposed to the rays of the sun (or spirit). It polarises these rays and draws fire from them. The spiritual state corresponding to her condition, and the intimate communion with God which is the result of it, belong to her in the spiritual world.
Then is lit within her this holy flaming Light which illumines
the world. In Latin, the language of, the Church, the name of Mary is identified with that of the Sea, and in the litany of the “Holy Name of Mary” she is addressed as “Mary, ocean of bitterness,” (...) From the beginning, water has been regarded as a symbol of the soul, and this term is used throughout the Holy Scriptures and by Our Lord Himself in the same acceptation: “Except a man be born of water and of the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Every Christian must, therefore, even as Jesus, be engendered psychically in the virgin soul by the divine Spirit. He must be born again in the Heavenly world and to spiritual things. It is only as a child of soul and spirit that he can apprehend that which is transcendental (...) (I Cor. xv. 48). Again, “That which is born of spirit is spirit.” It is to the soul, needless to say, that Hermes alludes in his Golden Treatise, when he mentions the “alchemical water wherein fire resides.” (...) This water is Mary, “the Great Deep,” over which the Spirit of God broods and moves in the beginning of the work of regeneration, and the fire that dwells in her is the heavenly Light, called “the glory of the only-begotten Son.”
The Son of Mary, states the evangelical annunciation, shall sit upon the throne of David, and shall reign for ever in the house of Jacob. The throne of David is the throne of the Beloved, of the King. It is the place of royalty and supremacy, and therefore is given to him who has been anointed with the Christ-principle. The house of Jacob is the image of this system, for Jacob was made the prince, and the representative of God upon earth, and his name is always used in Holy Scripture as denoting a governor of the microcosmic kingdom. This reign in the house of Jacob is, therefore, the expression and exercise of royal supremacy in the human system; the establishment in the midst of it of the glorious law of Spirit; its transformation into the Temple of the Holy Ghost, through the power of the Christ which has been given to us from God, and is made unto us wisdom, justice, sanctification, and redemption (I Cor. I. 30.)
(230:1) See note on p. 225 (1), ante.
(230:2) [Transcriber’s note: Luke I, 31-33 – “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”]
(230:3) In an Illumination “Concerning the Christian Mysteries,” received by Anna Kingsford, occurs the following passage: “It is said that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the daughter, spouse, and mother of God. But, inasmuch as spiritual energy has two conditions, one of passivity and one of activity, – which latter is styled the Holy Spirit, – it is said that Mary’s spouse is not the Father, but the Holy Ghost, these terms implying respectively the static and the dynamic modes of Deity. For the Father denotes the motionless, the force passive and potential, in whom all things are – subjectively. But the Holy Ghost represents will in action, – creative energy, motion, and generative function. Of this union of .the Divine Will in action – the Holy Ghost – with the human soul, the product is Christ, the God-man and Our Lord. And through Christ, the Divine Spirit, by whom He is begotten, flows and operates” (Clothed with the Sun, Pt. I. No. xlviii.). – S.H.H.
(231:1) The twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost are: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Longanimity, Goodness, Benignity, Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Continency, and Chastity. – A.K
(234:1) In a note to “Asclepios on Initiation,” in The Virgin of the World, Anna Kingsford says: “Hermetic doctrine regards man as having a twofold nature. For he is in one sense a child of the earth, developed by progressive evolution from below upwards; a true animal, and therefore bound by strict ties of kinship with the lower races, and of allegiance to Nature. In the other sense, man descends from above, and is of celestial origin; because when a certain point in his development from below is reached, the human soul focuses and fixes the Divine Spirit, which is peculiarly the attribute of man, and the possession of which constitutes his sovereignty over all other creatures. And until this vivification of the soul occurs, man is not truly Man in the Hermetic sense” (p. 53). – S.H.H.