Taylor devoted his whole useful life to the search after such old manuscripts as would enable him to have his own speculations concerning several obscure rites in the Mysteries corroborated by writers who had been initiated themselves. It is with full confidence in the assertions of various classical writers that we say that ridiculous, perhaps licentious in
J Introduction to Taylor's "Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries," published by J. W. Bouton.
some cases, as may appear ancient worship to the modern critic, it ought not to have so appeared to the Christians. During the medieval ages, and even later, they accepted pretty nearly the same without understanding the secret import of its rites, and quite satisfied with the obscure and rather fantastic interpretations of their clergy, who accepted the exterior form and distorted the inner meaning. We are ready to concede, in full justice, that centuries have passed since the great majority of the Christian clergy, who are not allowed to pry into God's mysteries nor seek to explain that which the Church has once accepted and established, have had the remotest idea of their symbolism, whether in its exoteric or esoteric meaning. Not so with the head of the Church and its highest dignitaries. And if we fully agree with Inman that it is "difficult to believe that the ecclesiastics who sanctioned the publication of such prints* could have been as ignorant as modern ritualists," we are not at all prepared to believe with
* Illustrated figures "from an ancient Rosary of the blessed Virgin Mary, printed at Venice, 1524, with a license from the Inquisition." In the illustrations given by Dr. Inman the Virgin is represented in an Assyrian "grove," the abomination in the eyes of the Lord, according to the Bible prophets. "The book in question," says the author, "contains numerous figures, all resembling closely the Mesopotamian emblem of Ishtar. The presence of the woman therein identifies the two as symbolic of Isis, or la nature; and a man bowing down in adoration thereof shows the same idea as is depicted in Assyrian sculptures, where males offer to the goddess symbols of themselves" (See "Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism," p. 91. Second edition. J. W. Bouton, publisher, New York).
the same author "that the latter, if they knew the real meaning of the symbols commonly used by the Roman Church, would not have adopted them."
To eliminate what is plainly derived from the sex and nature worship of the ancient heathens, would be equivalent to pulling down the whole Roman Catholic image-worship — the Madonna element — and reforming the faith to Protestantism. The enforcement of the late dogma of the Immaculation was prompted by this very secret reason. The science of symbology was making too rapid progress. Blind faith in the Pope's infallibility and in the immaculate nature of the Virgin and of her ancestral female lineage to a certain remove could alone save the Church from the indiscreet revelations of science. it was a clever stroke of policy on the part of the vicegerent of God. What matters it if, by "conferring upon her such an honor," as Don Pascale de Franciscis naively expresses it, he has made a goddess of the Virgin Mary, an Olympian Deity, who, having been by her very nature placed in the impossibility of sinning, can claim no virtue, no personal merit for her purity, precisely for which, as we were taught to believe in our younger days, she was chosen among all other women. If his Holiness has deprived her of this, perhaps, on the other hand, he thinks that he has endowed her with at least one physical attribute not shared by the other virgin-goddesses. But even this new dogma, which, in company with the new claim to infallibility, has quasi-revolutionized the Christian world, is not original with the Church of Rome. It is but a return to a hardly-
remembered heresy of the early Christian ages, that of the Collyridians, so called from their sacrificing cakes to the Virgin, whom they claimed to be Virgin-born. * The new sentence, "O, Virgin Mary, conceived without sin," is simply a tardy acceptance of that which was at first deemed a "blasphemous heresie" by the orthodox fathers.
To think for one moment that any of the popes, cardinals, or other high dignitaries "were not aware" from the first to the last of the external meanings of their symbols, is to do injustice to their great learning and their spirit of Machiavellism. It is to forget that the emissaries of Rome will never be stopped by any difficulty which can be skirted by the employment of Jesuitical artifice. The policy of complaisant conformity was never carried to greater lengths than by the missionaries in Ceylon, who, according to the Abbé Dubois — certainly a learned and competent authority — "conducted the images of the Virgin and Saviour on triumphal cars, imitated from the orgies of Juggernauth, and introduced the dancers from the Brahminical rites into the ceremonial of the church. "+ Let us at least thank these black-frocked politicians for their consistency in employing the car of Juggernauth, upon which the "wicked heathen" convey the lingham of Siva. To have used this car to carry in its turn the Romish representative of the female principle in nature, is to show discrimination and a thorough knowledge of the oldest
* See King's "Gnostics," pp. 91, 92; "The Genealogy of the Blessed Virgin Mary," by Faustus, Bishop of Riez.
f Prinseps quotes Dubois, "Edinburgh Review," April, 1851, p. 411.
mythological conceptions. They have blended the two deities, and thus represented, in a Christian procession, the "heathen" Brahma, or Nara (the father), Nari (the mother), and Viradj (the son).
Says Manu: "The Sovereign Master who exists through himself, divides his body into two halves, male and female, and from the union of these two principles is born Viradj, the Son."}
There was not a Christian Father who could have been ignorant of these symbols in their physical meaning; for it is in this latter aspect that they were abandoned to the ignorant rabble. Moreover, they all had as good reasons to suspect the occult symbolism contained in these images; although as none of them — Paul excepted, perhaps — had been initiated they could know nothing whatever about the nature of the final rites. Any person revealing these mysteries was put to death, regardless of sex, nationality, or creed. A Christian father would no more be proof against an accident than a Pagan Mysta or the Muax^?.
If during the Aporreta or preliminary arcanes, there were some practices which might have shocked the pudicity of a Christian convert — though we doubt the sincerity of such statements — their mystical symbolism was all sufficient to
J "Manu," book I., sloka 32: Sir W. Jones, translating from the Northern "Manu," renders this sloka as follows: "Having divided his own substance, the mighty Power became half male, half female, or nature active and passive; and from that female he produced Viraj."
relieve the performance of any charge of licentiousness. Even the episode of the Matron Baubo — whose rather eccentric method of consolation was immortalized in the minor Mysteries — is explained by impartial mystagogues quite naturally. Ceres-Demeter and her earthly wanderings in search of her daughter are the euhemerized descriptions of one of the most metaphysico-psychological subjects ever treated of by human mind. It is a mask for the transcendent narrative of the initiated seers; the celestial vision of the freed soul of the initiate of the last hour describing the process by which the soul that has not yet been incarnated descends for the first time into matter, "Blessed is he who hath seen those common concerns of the underworld; he knows both the end of life and its divine origin from Jupiter," says Pindar. Taylor shows, on the authority of more than one initiate, that the "dramatic performances of the Lesser Mysteries were designed by their founders, to signify occultly the condition of the unpurified soul invested with an earthly body, and enveloped in a material and physical nature . . . that the soul, indeed, till purified by philosophy, suffers death through its union with the body."
The body is the sepulchre, the prison of the soul, and many Christian Fathers held with Plato that the soul is punished through its union with the body. Such is the fundamental doctrine of the Buddhists and of many Brahmanists too. When Plotinus remarks that "when the soul has descended into generation (from its half-divine condition) she partakes of evil, and is carried a great way into a state the opposite of her first purity and integrity, to be entirely merged in which is nothing more than to fall into dark mire";* he only repeats the teachings of Gautama-Buddha. If we have to believe the ancient initiates at all, we must accept their interpretation of the symbols. And if, moreover, we find them perfectly coinciding with the teachings of the greatest philosophers and that which we know symbolizes the same meaning in the modern Mysteries in the East, we must believe them to be right.
If Demeter was considered the intellectual soul, or rather the Astral soul, half emanation from the spirit and half tainted with matter through a succession of spiritual evolutions — we may readily understand what is meant by the Matron Baubo, the Enchantress, who before she succeeds in reconciling the soul — Demeter, to its new position, finds herself obliged to assume the sexual forms of an infant. Baubo is matter, the physical body; and the intellectual, as yet pure astral soul can be ensnared into its new terrestrial prison but by the display of innocent babyhood. Until then, doomed to her fate, Demeter, or Magna-mater, the Soul, wonders and hesitates and suffers; but once having partaken of the magic potion prepared by Baubo, she forgets her sorrows; for a certain time she parts with that consciousness of higher intellect that she was possessed of before entering the body of a child. Thenceforth she must seek to rejoin it again; and when the age of reason arrives for the child, the struggle —
forgotten for a few years of infancy — begins again. The astral soul is placed between matter (body) and the highest intellect (its immortal spirit or nous). Which of those two will conquer? The result of the battle of life lies between the triad. It is a question of a few years of physical enjoyment on earth and — if it has begotten abuse — of the dissolution of the earthly body being followed by death of the astral body, which thus is prevented from being united with the highest spirit of the triad, which alone confers on us individual immortality; or, on the other hand, of becoming immortal myste; initiated before death of the body into the divine truths of the after life. Demi-gods below, and Gods above.
Such was the chief object of the Mysteries represented as diabolical by theology, and ridiculed by modern symbologists. To disbelieve that there exist in man certain arcane powers, which, by psychological study he can develop in himself to the highest degree, become an hierophant and then impart to others under the same conditions of earthly discipline, is to cast an imputation of falsehood and lunacy upon a number of the best, purest, and most learned men of antiquity and of the middle ages. What the hierophant was allowed to see at the last hour is hardly hinted at by them. And yet Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, and many others knew and affirmed their reality.
Whether in the "inner temple," or through the study of theurgy carried on privately, or by the sole exertion of a whole life of spiritual labor, they all obtained the practical proof of such divine possibilities for man fighting his battle with life on earth to win a life in the eternity. What the last epopteia was is alluded to by Plato in Ph^drus (64); ". . . being initiated in those Mysteries, which it is lawful to call the most blessed of all mysteries . . . we were freed from the molestations of evils which otherwise await us in a future period of time. Likewise, in consequence of this divine initiation, we became spectators of entire, simple, immovable, and blessed visions, resident in a pure light." This sentence shows that they saw visions, gods, spirits. As Taylor correctly observes, from all such passages in the works of the initiates it may be inferred, "that the most sublime part of the epopteia . . . consisted in beholding the gods themselves invested with a resplendent light," or highest planetary spirits. The statement of Proclus upon this subject is unequivocal: "In all the initiations and mysteries, the gods exhibit many forms of themselves, and appear in a variety of shapes, and sometimes, indeed, a formless light of themselves is held forth to the view; sometimes this light is according to a human form, and sometimes it proceeds into a different shape."*
"Whatever is on earth is the resemblance and Shadow of something that is in the sphere, while that resplendent thing (the prototype of the soul-spirit) remaineth in unchangeable condition, it is well also with its shadow. But when the resplendent one removeth far from its shadow life removeth from the latter to a distance. And yet, that very light is the shadow of something still more resplendent than itself." Thus
* "Commentary upon the Republic of Plato," p, 380.
speaks Desatir, the Persian Book of Shet, * thereby showing its identity of esoteric doctrines with those of the Greek philosophers.
The second statement of Plato confirms our belief that the Mysteries of the ancients were identical with the initiations, as practiced now among the Buddhists and the Hindu adepts. The highest visions, the most truthful, are produced, not through natural ecstatics or "mediums," as it is sometimes erroneously asserted, but through a regular discipline of gradual initiations and development of psychical powers. The Myste were brought into close union with those whom Proclus calls "mystical natures," "resplendent gods," because, as Plato says, "we were ourselves pure and immaculate, being liberated from this surrounding vestment, which we denominate body, and to which we are now bound like an oyster to its shell."+
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