The Journey as an inner itinerary towards initiatory transformation
And a short analysis of the meaning of the Masonic Secret
Index: The criteria of the Work of Transmutation - Recognition and disownment - [Spirit, Spiritual, Spirituality] - From identification to synthesis - [Sublimation and Synthesis] - [Vertical Telepathy] - The Power of the Snake - [Yoga]
The criteria of the Work of Transmutation
The criteria of the Work of Transmutation from a personal and profane identity to the initiatory one can be expressed in 6 key words. They are respectively:
Recognition - disownment - identification - transmutation - sublimation - synthesis.
Recognition and disownment
The first criterion aims at recognizing and separating all the multifold layers of "opinions" (the veils of Hermetic Philosophy) which have been superimposed to the synthesis of the unique initiatory and universal Truth by the different superstitious or lesser doctrinal ideologies, languages and interpretations. Recognizing their distortion and separating them from reality helps dissolving them. In this case, the criteria of recognition and esotericism are synonyms.
Recognition is the work of mental Alchemy indicated in the Smaragdine Table and known as the Verba Secretorum Hermetis:
« ...Separate then the earth from fire, and the subtle or fine from coarse or thick, delicately and gently, with great comprehension and modesty... admirable combinations will follow and many wonders will occur: this is the path to achieve them. For this reason I have been called Hermes Trismegistus, viz. triple Mercurius, because I own the three parts of the wisdom of the whole world. This must be said of the masterpiece of chymia or of the Lapide philosophorum.»
By «three parts of the wisdom of the whole world», we mean the three Triads. Earth (the body), Air and Water (the two minds, lower and higher), Fire (igneous spirit).
The vulgar metals are desires, models and myths that move the profane world. Power, sex, money; personal interpretations; oppressive and repressive religious opinions; excess and ideological fanaticism; these are the elements that are called in psychology the sub-personalities of man.
It won't be sufficient to work for their identification and removal (recognition), but it will be necessary to dis-identify from a subtler "evil" represented by roles. One must stop thinking of oneself as of something that somehow belongs to the emotional or lower mental sphere. Dis-identify from the profane roles with which the adept is identified and that he unconsciously interprets thinking that they are himself, his own personal identity. This careful work of discrimination between reality and illusion is the most delicate stage of the initiatory growth, therefore the help of an Expert and Terrible Brother is not only desirable but necessary (see its allegory in the image of the man who guides the steps of the initiating man through all the Journeys that, from darkness, lead him towards the Light of Initiation), for two reasons.
The first is that no adept is able to self-diagnose the presence, coloration and quality of a sub-personality, especially in the stage where it comes down to the minimum and seems to disappear. The second reason is that the expert (in guiding) and terrible (towards the metallic meanness) Brother, will work as a mirror (the Speculum of the Initiate is one's own animic conscience but for the adept it will be the intelligence, the sensitivity and the perceptiveness of an elder Brother), clearly reflecting without any personal distortions the effects of progress and the real consistency of his psychic and emotional state in real time. In other words, he will work as an egoic barycenter (like a barometer constantly measures climatic changes) until the adept won't be able to carry out this task by himself and this, in the most uncritical sense of the term, can be considered as a constant "tyling" that can be directed inside as well as outside any Brother (besides oneself, of course).
After considering exterior metals as profane models, let's define the theorem of recognition and disownment from the role. In order to simplify the subject, we will use a series of examples that we hope are simple but effective.
The symbol-words for all identifications are: «I am this and I am that», whilst those of dis-identifications are: «I am not this and I am not that». In order to reach his goal, the adept will have to use the combination between the two symbols «I am not that but I am this» first, in order to reach later the statement of fact: «I am this». The statement is an act of will that doesn't allow inner misunderstandings because it is the reflection emanated by the cosmic Mind. Indeed it is affirmed (Will aspect) with «I am He who is» - the ‘Ehjeh ‘Asher ‘Ehjeh of the Cabbala that is placed above (outside) of the Sephirotic Tree.
We can express the essence of Transmutation for the Ancient Mysteries in two Precepts: an exoteric one: «Know Thyself» and an esoteric one: «All leads off the Mind (cosmic) and all goes back to it». In both Precepts an orderly method of advancement is highlighted. The first exoteric Precept contains a precise invitation to introspective research and inner work, comparable to the hermetic principle of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. In the second esoteric rule the invitation to string together a series of identification of a superior order is implied, which involves what is in common terms called a gradual expansion of conscience of the initiate. If this expansion is carried out properly it can overcome the high planes of the mind up to reaching the perception of the Archetype One through the inner connection with the cosmic Mind (light). This link is contained in the symbolism of the “Bridge” of the hermeticists and in the Royal Arch placed in the thirteenth High Ritual Chamber of the Scottish Pyramid. The same concept is taught in the eastern initiatory Schools, in the symbolism of the Sutratma, the golden bridge dynamic and descending from the spirit (the monadic Triad, Osiris) and of the Antahkarana, the silver bridge receptive and ascending, between Personality and Soul (the animic Triad, Isis).
This series of identifications and expansions of conscience is contained in the teaching of the hermetic philosophy called Aurea Catena Homeri; unfortunately we can't expound its contents in this short treaty, but every good researcher will be able to find it in the hermetic texts (see the note "The Water Stone" in Spiritual Alchemy V).
Therefore it appears unmistakable for the adept that the battle between (his own) Titans (Ego and sub-personalities) is carried out inside his own conscience and that the Armageddon is an allegorical form that indicates a war essentially fought on the psychic planes.
This is why in the esoteric philosophy the Middle Chamber of the initiate is the sphere of Psyche (the Temple of Solomon) surrounded by the obscure sub-personalities that live in its lower planes (fellows, apprentices and profanes) in search of the Light of the Triad (the first Secret Master) in order for it to enlighten their "journey" to reach the True-Light of Horus-Hiram.
Hiram is the inner Spiritual Sun* of the Initiate, his Monad.
* Spirit, Spiritual, Spirituality - We must distinguish the Spirit in its essence from the characteristic through which it reveals itself. Assagioli states in his work: the Spirit itself is the Supreme Reality in its transcendent, viz. absolute, aspect, lacking any limitation and concrete determination. It transcends any time and space limit, any material bond; in its essence it is eternal, infinite, free and universal. Spiritual, in its widest psycho-synthetic connotation, doesn't only involve specifically religious experiences, but all the states of conscience and all the functions and activities that concern the values superior to the ordinary, ethical, aesthetical, heroic, humanitarian and altruistic values. Spirituality doesn't consist of theories and abstractions, it is not idealism separated from life. Essentially it consists of considering life problems from a high, comprehensive and synthetic point of view. It means to try everything according to true values, to try and reach the essence of every event without stopping at its appearance or being deluded by traditional opinions, collective influences, tendencies, emotions, personal preconceptions. In man it can be recognized by the fact that he lacks watertight compartments and opposition between heart and mind, soul and body, inner and practical life that extends to social life.
Let's now give a few examples that will take us back to the criteria that create the dis-identification from profane roles and the identification with initiatory Principles.
In saying: I am a doctor, I am a workman, I am Italian, I am a catholic, I am a man or a woman , the individuality of the adept is absorbed, assimilated and identified in profane roles. In the first two examples the identification is with a social role; in the third it is a personal identification with a geographical point; then with an interpretative, particular language that separates the universal Religion and finally the identification with the material Form (the physical body).
In actual fact the individual conscience of the superior mind is nothing of the kind; those sometimes relative, distorted and illusory identifications create in it inner conflicts and pain. We won't go into the issue of psychosomatic diseases; we can just point out this connection to the scholar. In the instances of distorted and violent identifications that we reach, up to the high planes of the Psyche, all this worsens; so much so that in that case it is said that the "Soul falls ill" or that "the Spirit is ill". As a consequence, the lower mind as well falls ill with psychic diseases such as melancholy, depression and inner conflicts and finally the physical body decays as well. An ancient Precept states that to heal the Body we must cure the Mind first. These events involve negative aggravations that quite often follow Man in several immersions in his material Forms. These negative aggravations are called repercussions on the lower planes. We can just mention that the repercussions are related, in the negative sense (they distort its harmonics) with the silent sound (we also called it the Occult Name) that is generated on all planes of manifestation. This is the tonic or dystonic effect of energy in motion, the sound caused by the friction between spiritual and material energy (like the phenomenon called Joule effect in the electrical currents).
By changing his mental attitude, the adept will start adapting to a small but not simple decoding and he will start by stating ( interiorly ): I practice medicine, I follow a workmanship, I live and workin this country, I am used to the Catholic language, I was born in a male or female body.
From identification to synthesis
Carrying on with the examples of the five psychological situations examined, (but the range could be endless) we can progress by summing up the dis-identification to a new identification of a superior order. Here a new balance between necessary role and desired value appears: I practice medicine or workmanship but I am a master mason; I live and work in Italy but I am an adept (and I know the Principle of planetary Universality); I understand this religious language but I am an initiate (and therefore I tend to understand them all); I am immersed in a male or female body but I am a pure mind (emotionally androgynous). It is implicit that if the initiate is such only virtually, viz. if he lacks a true intellectual depth linked to the meanings of Tradition, his aspiration will remain only that, a simple desire of identification with the initiatory Principle and this, so to speak, would have the same effects of a prayer, not an evocating one but a devotional one, viz. nothing.
Provided the need for a social role but without ephemeral ambitions or overrated respect for real duties and needs, this gradual process of stringing together from a lower to a higher thought-form, that glues together the lower into the higher, leads directly to sublimation and as a consequence to synthesis* . This is the journey of "Transmutation" that ends with the inner recognition of "I am this", that is "I am an Initiate" because I recognize that I identify with the Principle One of Initiation. This Principle One is represented by the knowledge of the Greater Mystery re-veiled (veiled twice) by Horus-Hiram who, on his turn, hides the identity of the Great Architect of the Universe in his Symbol.
«Knowledge is personal identification with a reality, not a simple speculative action».
* Sublimation and Synthesis - Sublimation and Synthesis are two significant concepts of the Ancient Tradition also present in modern psycho-synthesis. Let's carefully analyze their meaning. For psycho-synthesis Sublimation is a process of transformation similar to the chemical one, where energy is taken to the higher level leaving the dross at the bottom. Therefore it is natural, and often spontaneous, that it is carried out through the action of the will. This technique is used in psycho-synthesis with methods and means that can be resumed as follows: elevation of the energies to sublimate; purification of reasons and intentions; interiorization; extension of conscience and finally exterior expression (action, words and gesture). An effective method to reach the sublimation of sexual energies is a resolute immersion in creative activities. Synthesis is a word that comes from the Greek synthesis , which corresponds to "composition". It is the expression of a universal principle and one of the manifestations of the law of syntropy. On the contrary of a mixture, which is the simple sum of the properties of individual elements, a synthesis resumes two or more elements in a superior entity which has qualities different from each of them, in a superior reality that includes and transcends all of them. In order to carry it out we need the powerful action of a higher regulating Principle. This Principle, in our case, is the Initiatory Light, the spiritual Principle.
The Initiate, progressed in the sublimation of self in the sphere of conscience of the animic Triad, finds the last operating "key" that leads to the final synthesis of the initiatory Journey: the link with "his own" Archetype One, his own Monad.
We will not go any deeper into this last concept because it is quite far from the speculative threshold, but we will point out how it is linked to the planetary Logos through a process of "Transmission" (this is not the original term) with the Being called Anima Mundi (of feminine gender) and to the Solar Logos with the Spiritus Mundi volatilis (of male gender); "All leads off the Mind and all goes back to it" and in the development of this last sentence there is the explanation of the whole hermetic science.
Not far from the beginning of the personal Work of Transmutation, the inner perception of the Adept (the vigilant threshold of his personality) is faced more and more clearly by the presence, recognizable by assonance, of the Ego or higher Self (Jung's super-consciousness and Plato's Psyche-Soul) and as a consequence also by the magnetic respondence of the animic Triad (which, because of this attracting energetic quality of its, is called Love). This produces, on its part, the illumination of the mind (initially by illumination we mean the opening of the Eye of the Mind, the telepathic perception* of the ethereal planes) in the lower planes, in order to lead them to blend gradually in the super-conscience of the Ego.
In Ancient Commentaries this method is called Shading (of the Soul on the Personality) whilst in the hermetic treaties we recognize the descending Initiation (of the Triad on the lower personality), and what we have explained so far is one «...of the admirable combinations that will bring many miracles...» which the quotation of the Emerald Table of Hermes referred to.
* Vertical Telepathy - Telepathy means influence at distance and vertical telepathy means the distance of level between Ego and Self. Therefore vertical telepathy (see Vertical Telepathy) is the faculty to receive from above, from the individual super-consciousness or from the levels of super-consciousness outside the individual itself. Like the horizontal one, it is divided into spontaneous and provoked or experimental aspects. In the spontaneous one all the inspiring phenomena are included. - Assagioli.
The Power of the Snake
The "libido" psychoanalysis of S. Freud (founder of the mechanistic philosophy in psychoanalysis), the "super-consciousness" of C. G. Jung (founder of the teleological philosophy in psychoanalysis) and the "act of will" by R. Assagioli (founder of the psycho-synthetic philosophy in psychoanalysis), just to mention the genealogy of the thoughts on depth psychology, form a science that, despite widely drawing from the psycho-dynamics of Raja Yoga* of the Vedic Tradition (the written part dates back to circa 5,000 B.C., the oral aspect dates further back) it is still far too young to represent an absolute support for the adept who really wants to become an Initiate. Therefore he will have to go back and draw himself from the secret Doctrine of the initiatory Science (the same in all the Mysteries) and in particular from the branch that in ancient times was called the Power of the Snake.
* Yoga - Yoga originates from the Sanskrit root "yuj", which means to join, to unite. It can be defined as the science of the unity between the personal and the transpersonal aspect of man. But the root-word yuj means unity in the sense of "domain", therefore by Yoga we mean domain and the discipline of the lower elements of human nature from the higher ones.
In recent times, through unscrupulous commercial publications, the exoteric interpretations of Yoga, starting from Hatha up to the millenary techniques of mental power of the Raja, have been made accessible to the curiosity of the buyer even without the help of an expert guide. This easiness of access to theoretical exteriority, based on curiosity and improvisation, has involved many westerners, especially youngsters, in paradoxical psychic and physical as well as emotional pilgrimages, creating the premises for situations that sometimes result in permanent mental dissociation or, in the best of cases, in a separation and refusal of the social and cultural reality where they were radically identified; furthermore, without them being able to replace it with their new dimension, because it was imaginary and surreal. The culture, philosophy, mysticism and eastern initiatory tradition where the origins of Yoga (ten types in total) are rooted, especially those considered "high" such as Raja and Agni (philosophy of the Fire) are for these people, in actual fact, totally impenetrable and even hostile.
The special branch of mental Techniques called Power of the Snake hugely overcomes the routines of Raja Yoga, which is only its premise. It is not surprising, then, that it is covered with particular rigor and we see the need for this rigidness when we discover that its routines move the energies of the electromagnetic fields of human physiology. These energetic fields are present outside the physical body, generally summed up in a unique generic term: Aura (electro-vital and electro-mental) but they also exist inside it and their activation is the work of the Power of the Snake.
The latter transmutes by burning with its serpentine Fire (electrical); therefore it is a destructing agent that is very dangerous in the hands of improvised and empirical experimenters. The Snake (and the Dragon) is the symbol of the initiatory Knowledge, the Power that enlightens and the Fire that destroys any form different from itself.
This power, symbolized by the Snake or by the Winged Dragon (we should distinguish between the various colors that contain as many meanings) is an active energy assimilated to its cosmic counterpart (nuclear), which in the hermetical texts of the Cabbala is called the Fohat, primitive energy manifested at every level of the cosmos for the activity of the Archetype One.
This energy is called serpentine Fire because of the shape it takes when it moves (going up) through its three energetic channels, one straight and two in a sinusoidal form. Through these three channels it ascends towards the center of the head of man, flowing through seven energetic centers or ganglia, which it revives one after the other (ascending initiation). This journey with its centers, the joining points between the three forces, is clearly recognizable in the symbol of the Caduceus of Hermes. For this reason, the Caduceus is the symbol of Mercury, the illuminated mind (by the inner sun of the sephirah Tiphereth).
Eliphas Levi calls «the Great Snake» the lower part of the Anima Mundi that reflects all the Good and Evil that emanates from the World of Matter. With the power of Discrimination and Fair Judgment the Anima Mundi, the Mirror of the World, becomes for the Initiate an inexhaustible Archive of knowledge. The existence of this specular Archive is also recognized by the Eastern Initiates who state that it is situated in the lower part of the Akasha , archaic synonym of the most recent Anima Mundi.
When the effect of descending and ascending initiation meets, the complete fulfillment of the Work of Transmutation of Man occurs (). He then becomes, to use a hermetic term, a Reintegrated Man, the Adam-Kadmon of the Sephirothic Triad (in the microcosmic sense) whose apex is Kether.
At this point we would like to briefly demonstrate to the scholar the legitimacy of what Hon. Br. Eliphas Levi stated on the subject of a unique radical Science. Like the apparently distant hermetic and Hebrew traditions, they express in actual fact the same Principe and, if we had more time at our disposal, we would demonstrate that both derive from an even older third tradition, the Caldean one; but on its turn it comes from ….and so on. But this would mean wandering from the subject.
In the Rig-Vedas (partial transcription of the oral teaching) and in the following Vedas (written teaching) we can find the same principle later assimilated by hermeticism and transposed in all the other lesser traditions. This principle describes the "descent" in the manifestation of the Archetype One in a Trinity and this is reflected in the man microcosm in three Triads, the monadic, the animic and the physical one. Mystics call it spirit, soul and body (body energy) whilst Rosicrucians call them Body of Glory, Body of Light and Body of Desire; the latter was called more scientifically Body Heat by the alchemist Rosicrucians. All traditions, including the Hebrew one, mention 9 levels of manifestation of which only 7 are perceivable by man. The explanation of these 7 (9) levels is identical in all traditions, except for the language used. In this short essay we can't do anything but point out the analogy hoping that it is clear that the Teaching is always the same, One, despite the different languages used. This would destroy the barrier of form, which makes many young adepts believe that they are different from others only because they use a different language. In the Sephirothic Tree the same principles (content) are demonstrated with different terms (form). In the macrocosm the Trinity is manifested, which in Hebrew is called Briyah – Yetzirah – Assiah; it reflects (specularly, in reverse) in the microcosm originating: Neshamah (spirit), Ruah (Soul) and Nephesch (the energy of the dense B., what hermeticists call the ethereal B.).
Neshamah, Ruah and Nephesch form the three Triads which are recognizable respectively in the triangle (Neshamah-spiritual) made by the sephirot Keter-Chokmah-Binah, in the triangle (Ruah-animic) made by the sephirot Chesed-Gevurah-Tipheret and finally in the triangle (Nephesch-ethereal) formed by the sephirot Netzach-Hod-Yesod-Malkuth.
The higher Triad (with its apex in Kether) is the Adam-Kadmon, the Celestial Man of mystics, whilst the lower Quaternary is often indicated by the plural Adam-Adams or simply Adam. These plurals indicate that the principle of the cycles of reincarnation is present in the sphere of material life; the earthly Adam crosses these cycles in order to re-join the divine identity until he himself will become an Adam-Kadmon.
Before concluding this digression, it will be better to explain a concept whose two-fold interpretation might create trouble to young researchers. We would like to explain the reason for the two interpretations that indicate the physical Body of man, his dense form, sometimes as a Quaternary and sometimes as a Triad.
Masonic symbolism uses a Square to represent the dense Form (the Quaternary), surmounted by a Triangle to represent the animic Triad (the Monad is the symbol of the eye in the equilateral triangle, which is the symbol of geometrical perfection in the spiritual Form). We must say straight away that both interpretations are correct; the only difference between them is their point of view.
The definition of Quaternary recognizes as principle also the organic "matter" of the dense body and then it adds to it the energetic principles of ethereal (electric-vital, electric-mental), lower mental (also called astral, for the interaction existing between the drives and instincts of form and the concrete mind, which is the reason why Rosicrucians call it the body of desire. In psychology it is called the emotional plane) and higher or abstract mental.
The definition of physical Triad is the result of a more sophisticated speculation. In the concept of Triad the matter of the body is considered as a non-principle, because it is only the sum of independent principles that don't belong to the properly human Kingdom and that don't depend on it because they belong to different Kingdoms of Nature, precisely the mineral-vegetal-animal kingdoms. Therefore in the physical Triad only genuine (pure) principles are considered, viz. the energetic principles of the ethereal-mental nature. In other words, in the concept of Triad only the human Personality is recognized.