" ESOTERICISM BETWEEN EAST AND WEST "
Author and Speaker Athos. A. Altomonte
Rome, 30th june 2001
Index: 1. Three and Four: Triangle and Square - 2. The Four Elements of the living substance - 3. The cubic Stone - 4. Emblematic meaning of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. - 5. The Cup of Wisdom - 6. Use of Curiosity - 7. Esoteric meanings of the Masonic Apron - 8. Illumination - 9. Methodical doubt and analogy: two orientation tools in the world of meanings - 10. The books of Stone - 11. The Sephirothic Tree - 12. An interpretative analysis of the Tree - 13. The Sephirothic System - 14. The 11th invisible Sephir: Da’ath – the Abyss of Mutation - 15. Two ritual lights: the Menorah, the Chanukah - 16. Analogy of the seven, Menorah, Caduceus of Hermes and initiatory Staff - 17. The Journey of the humankind - 18. "Solve et Coagula" - 19. Left and Right, in order to recover the meaning of male and female Initiation - 20. Notions on the silent sound - 21. Interiorization - 22. The descent of V.I.T.R.I.O.L.
Three and Four: Triangle and Square
The triangle is the symbol used to express the relation between the various elements of physical manifestation and the three fundamental aspects that rule the universe. Symbolically, the vertexes of the triangle represent a greater Triad, the so-called divine Ternary, which animates any formal representation.
On the contrary, every physical form is made of a quaternary, with four elements also symbolically called: Earth, Water, Air and Fire.
These four elements also rule the substance of the physical body of the human being.
This is how the number four, the square and the quaternary have become the emblem of the physical body (the human microcosm: the Adam of clay ); in its materiality the spiritual Man is crucified (the human macrocosm: the Adam Kadmon ).
The Four Elements of the living substance
The meaning of the quaternary, the four elements, is described to the Apprentice Freemason during the four symbolic journeys of his first Masonic initiation.
The courses of the four symbolic journeys are a solemn ceremonial representation, where the neophyte is led to go through each of the four evolutionary Eras of the human development. The humankind has gone through part of them, but most of them are yet to be carried out (see: The four journeys of Masonic Initiation ). They are the representation of a long inner journey that goes through a multitude of states of conscience which are divided into four main models .
The Earth (the minerals and the skeleton) represents the condition of total physicalness; therefore the condition of inner blindness, represented by the black blindfold that is placed on the eyes of the neophyte.
The Water (the passional mind) represents the condition of a conscience that is still subject to impulses (emotional waves). When the water is warmed up by the feeble light of reason, the ‘fogs and miasmas' of illusion spread. This is still a condition of shadow called ‘the long night of astral conscience'; therefore during this initiatory journey as well, the neophyte is still blindfolded.
The Air (the superior mind) represents the mercurial condition, so to speak. In the Caduceus of Hermes this condition is represented by the two white wings that precede its top, viz. the intellectual freedom that anticipates the spiritual freedom.
Of the Fire Element (spiritual conscience) I would like to highlight a detail that is usually neglected. The Fire is not ‘reached' but ‘received', up to the point that we become a point of Light in a world of Shadows ourselves.
The cubic stone
The ‘ Rough stone ' is an allegory of the coarseness of an intellect that lacks the illumination of the spirit. It is a darkness that clouds personality, making it unconscious and therefore completely earthly. Therefore the Rough stone must be processed, shaped, mold and refined; once it has been perfectly polished it becomes the perfection of the ‘cubic Stone'. But the polishing is only superficial; in order for the change to happen beyond the aspect ‘Beauty', we must get into the depth of one's own ‘Stone'.
Emblematic meaning of V.I.T.R.I.O.L.
The search of oneself means to immerse into one's own inner reality, transmuting the ‘tone' of any feeling into its higher note, in order to allow the fragment of divine nature that animates us to resound. This inner involvement of our own conscience is represented by the acronym V.I.T.R.I.O.L., which means visita (by visiting) interior terrae (the subconscious) rectificando (transmuting it) invenies (you will find) occultum lapidem (the hidden stone, philosophic wisdom). Of course this is the path of inner conscience that must be faced with the means of an advanced mind .
The Cup of Wisdom
The personality to be rectified is like an empty Cup to be filled with ‘good spirit'.
The Cup is the heart of the Adept. The ‘empty' part is the most suitable to receive an aerial and metaphysical knowledge, therefore it is superior to the knowledge of earthly living.
The Cup has a feminine aspect, which is receptive and perceptive, ready to understand because it is prepared to open to new knowledge, overcoming inhibitions, preconceptions and prejudices of the rational counterpart; it also has a ‘masculine' side, conservative and not too keen to accept news and fast changes.
Use of Curiosity
‘The Door of the Kingdom of Heaven is open to children': the sense of this statement is the good disposition of a conscience to open to the ‘new'; with expectation but without preclusions or prejudices, which are the typical obstacles of adult reason.
The purity of children is once again the metaphor of the good disposition to improvement; the unconditional acceptance of the new things to come. But willingness is also curiosity. The person who doesn't feel curiosity can't be willing to learn; the person who doesn't feel the inner drive to renewal is still a ‘sleeping' conscience.
Esoteric meanings of the Masonic Apron
Freemasonry places the meanings of the four elements of Triangle and Square in the Freemason's Apron.
During the Ritual Works, the Apprentice Introduced (to the mysteries) wears the bib (the triangle) of his apron lifted up, representing the separation between the superior triad (spirit) and the quaternary of physical substance (matter).
The Fellow Craft lets the bib-triangle of the apron down in the inert shape of the square; this symbolically means that by smoothing the corners of one's own ‘rough Stone' he arrived, through the active conscience, to a first contact between the two different aspects. Here a third aspect arises, intelligence.
The re-awakened conscience opens up to the process of precipitation of the spiritual fire that ‘illuminates' the quaternary of physical substance. This initiatory process is represented in the Flaming Pentalpha, symbol of the man set free from the slavery of the material aspect.
This emancipation is represented by the bright red border that runs along the perimeter of the Apron of the Master Mason which therefore becomes Builder and Founder of Ideas . But the Masonic Apron is only a symbol, and as such it is an emblematic representation of the initiatory progress. The inner illumination, though, doesn't just come after wearing a red bordered Apron. Therefore, although the action of symbolic initiation is concluded by wearing a red bordered Apron, in actual fact illumination is something else.
By setting the right conditions in one's own physical conscience, the spiritual substance (Fohat) can precipitate into it up to illuminating it . This precipitation depends on the realization of the Real Bridge , viz. on the accomplishment of a sentient connection that crosses various aspects of the same conscience, joining the earth of the initiate (physical personality) to his inner sky (spiritual afflatus). In this instance, the intuitive intelligence will not be an occasional phenomenon like intuition, but the fundamental instrument for the expansion of the physical conscience beyond the narrow boundaries of the individualistic and egocentric self.
Methodical doubt and analogy: two orientation tools in the world of meanings
Usefulness of the methodical doubt: the talented esotericist doesn't accept any proposition without verifying the objectivity of reason and truthfulness of meanings. Therefore no concept is ever accepted a priori without a thorough verification, no matter how influential it might appear. Of course this is not a prejudice but dutiful prudence.
To accept a ‘truth' a priori is a habit of gullible people that can be deceived. The researcher, on his turn, doesn't just collect anything he sees or hears. Like a cautious detective, he weighs any concept before accepting it.
Now, through prudence we can glimpse the hyperbolic doubt .
In ancient Greece the word epochè described the attitude of the people who, when they were not sure or when reasons were acceptable from both sides, refrained from expressing a judgment until the truth wasn't clear.
The doubt of the man who looks for the truth of the idea is not skepticism (see Pyrrhus of Elis). It is the wise ‘suspension' of the man who waits for the crucial element to appear.
The attitude of being able to wait, refraining from expressing rushed conclusions and not embracing any preconceived results is wise and detached. On the contrary, the man who falls in love with his own research, so much so that he hurriedly embraces results which are still uncertain, doesn't realize that in actual fact he has only fallen in love with himself, his expectations and convictions. Indeed, in front of the unknown of an idea we can stick to the methodical doubt. It is a tool for enquiry that opens the way to the truth, since the methodical analysis of the concept goes back to the root of the idea and questions all false opinions (see Socrates, Plato, Husserl).
But, as Descartes warned, the methodical doubt must be abandoned as soon as something certain and constant has been established in the concept. After that, research opens to analogy.
Use of analogy : analogy is useful to find relations of proportionality and similitude between different realities , in order for an obscure meaning to be compared to other undoubted realities and therefore accepted or refused. Aristotle said that there is analogy when ‘the second term is in relation to the first in the same proportion as the fourth to the third; therefore instead of the second term we can use the fourth, or instead of the fourth we can use the second'. In other words, the analogy expresses identity and diversity at the same time: an identity or similitude between different terms or proportions of terms. Therefore it must be distinguished from ambiguity or homonymy as well as from unambiguity, viz. from the use of the same term to express different meanings.
The researcher is advised to be cautious before accepting a ‘truth', especially if it is passed on in a literal and symbolic form; in the field of metaphysics abstruse concepts are often hidden in formulas that appear clever. This is when we appeal to analogy to find out if the idea, the symbol or the statement of a principle has already been enunciated and since how long. It doesn't matter if a different language has been used or other cultures passed it on. Finding the same idea in different cultural forms is called sapiential continuum . A concept that resisted to the passing of time, keeping its original meaning despite the changes in the languages, can be considered a likely truth.
Likely, because the researcher is never a dreamer; he applies on the idea his own ability to discriminate, his competence made of natural talent, scientific and humanistic knowledge. These ability and competence will sum up with the personal ability of analytical penetration.
The capacity to compare theses that divide the humankind without falling in love is one of the factors that allow research to ‘survive'. Analogy and comparison, therefore, offer the opportunity to discover how a truthful concept can be found, even if it is hidden under different and opposing forms and meanings. This teaches us that a truth lives by itself and for itself and nobody can claim its authority.
The Books of Stone
Every time we face an architectural structure such as a Temple or a Cathedral, we should realize that we are facing a Book of Stone which, careless of the passing of time, perpetuates the principles of ancient knowledge, transmitted in frontispieces, floors, ornaments and furnishings. On the facades of Cathedrals, for example, the Tree of Life is represented.
The esotericist is aware of several symbolic representations in the shape of a tree. The Tree of Knowledge, for example, has its roots ‘in the ground' and the foliage of ‘human sciences' standing out. This is the allegory of an earthly knowledge, whose subdivisions are the multi-fold branches of a trunk, from where we have the branches of natural theology, natural philosophy and human philosophy.
The Porphyrian Tree illustrates the categories of gender and species compiled by Aristotle, according to which:
Substance can be corporeal or incorporeal;
Corporeal substance can be animated or unanimated;
The animated body can be sensitive or insensitive;
The sensitive or animal body can be reasonable or unreasonable;
The reasonable animal can be mortal or immortal;
The reasonable mortal animal is the physical man (Socrates and Plato) on which lesser forms of life depend.
But the tree that interests the esotericist the most is the Sephirothic Tree . It is the allegorical representation of the descent of the divine spirit up to the most unchangeable aspect of matter and its re-ascent in the form of sentient conscience of Man
The Sephirothic Tree
The Sephirothic Tree is a complex system of life made of 10 visible levels (sephirot) and an umperceivable sphere (sephir). This complex is contained into a greater sphere called Ain Soph Aur (the Absolute), seat of the unknowable, called ‘ Ehjeh ‘Aser ‘Ehje' , which in Hebrew means ‘the Being is the Being', viz. ‘I am He who is'.
‘The Sephirothic Tree is a mandala, a symbol where the infinite expressive possibilities of the micro-macrocosm are represented.
Its right interpretation (through the Kabbalah, Note of the Author ) reveals the meaning of the world of names and forms.
It gives the understanding of the coarse and subtle energies and the possibility to pick them up.
It can be meditated on a metaphysical, ontologic, theurgic and psichological level. Since it is a complete Mandala, it contains the total reality.' Raphael
The Sephirothic System develops on Three Pillars, related through 22 paths that join the ten sephirot (Universes of conscience) of the representation. At the center of this mythical description of creative will, that matches with the rose windows of cathedrals, is placed the sephir called Tiphereth (Malachim), which represents the God of any particular universe.
An interpretative analysis of the Tree
It is intentional on my part to avoid such a complex as well as clear topic. But I would like indeed to indicate some analogies, in order for the approach to this subject not to remain too obscure. Let's consider, then, some advantages that the system indicates for the inner progression of man. For the moment let's omit the consideration of will and divine intention.
The ten sephirothic universes are ten states of conscience, through which the sentient being (man and woman of the physical sphere) can get his/her own primitive identity back (conscience of self), going back to the original state of spiritual conscience. The 22 paths of the Sephirothic Tree are the paths (methods) used to obtain the expansion of conscience, viz. to multiply the aspects of conscience . The whole system helps the initiate to relate to the vital afflatus of the ‘supreme Will', going back up the 10 inner universes that make its divine constitution.
Because all that happens is contained inside the divine constitution.
The ten spheres of conscience are not an absolute number, but they are only the ‘main stations' of a long evolutionary journey. In the latter, we recognize ourselves as reasonable identities first, then intelligent and finally spiritual identities.
The spheres of ‘conscious specialization' we are referring to are not an exclusive topic of Hebrew mysticism, but they are found in other methods. For example the Aura Catena Homeri. Annulus Platonis. Superius et Inferius Hermetis , illustrates the stringing together of a descending procession of ten spheres that go back towards the original cause. This image has strong analogies with the Angelical Ladder ‘dreamed of' by Jacob (Genesis XVIII-10). In other words we go round the same concept: the ‘involutional progression' of the spirit that has the effect of ‘ evolutionary progression ' of the Matter (see consecration of the matter in Men who want ‘Wings ' ).
We could say a lot about the quality of these 10 spheres of conscience, even associate them to the Yoga philosophies (union). More easily we can find their correspondences in the exterior activities of the humankind. Indeed, because human groups join together in activities that are the result of mental affinities. And what is a psychic affinity but the versatility of one's own conscience?
Therefore let's observe these ten exterior versatilities and then let's try and recompose them inside ourselves:
Great guides that poured the illuminating energy of Archetypal Ideas on the humankind.
Great communicators, intellectuals and observers that by exteriorizing the ideas on the mental planes, help fighting the illusion and the deceit on the instinctive planes of the human existence.
Therapists that consider the being in a holistic perspective and diseases as a disturbance matured between psyche and soma .
Educators that know how culture divides whilst wisdom joins.
Political organizers that fight for the people's rights, for the acquisition of welfare and a social conscience free from ideological games.
Operators of Religion which, with intelligent love, fight against sectarian interpretations of a spiritual reality shared by all people. They oppose the versions of those who use the Divine concept as ‘manifesto' of one's own theological absolutism.
Scientists that for the common wellbeing put their talent for the benefit of the humankind, to alleviate and satisfy its needs.
Scientists and experts that study the mind as a reflection of the soul.
Financiers and economists able to efficiently redistribute their work.
Inventors and creatives that don't pursue detrimental intentions.
The Sephirothic System
In the sephirothic System we also find three ‘accesses-exits', that communicate via dimensional sequences (it is obvious the intention to indicate Sound as a guideline to interpret the topic) different from those who ‘support' the manifestation as we perceive it .
The main ‘connection path' is Kether (Crown), placed at the top of the system. Another, unperceivable to the senses, is the eleventh sephir called Da'ath (the Abyss of mutation), whilst the other is at the basis of the Tree and is called Malkuth (Ischim).
Some esotericists don't fail to notice the analogy between the unfathomable aspect of cosmic black holes and the sephirot, which communicates with dimensions placed beyond the sephirothic manifestation.
The sephir Malkuth opens on the densest physical materiality and goes beyond it. Whilst Kether overcomes any possible concept, coming out in the sphere of metaphysical absolute, unconceivable because it doesn't ‘rest' on any principle. It is a life of non-manifestation, therefore called ‘clothesless' and seat of ‘He who nothing can be said about'".
The 11th invisible Sephir: Da'ath – the Abyss of Mutation
There is not much discussion about the eleventh sephir, called Da'ath. Yet it is the boundary sphere between essence and substance, viz. between being and appearing. In other words, it is the boundary between the project and the realization of the Great Work , and it is peculiar, to say the least, that among ‘esotericists' this is not talked about much. Perhaps because it implies the complete transmutation of oneself, and this scares most people.
It comes the time when the Initiate, ‘Pilgrim on the path of return', must throw himself in the abyss and lose himself to find himself. This paraphrasis, together with the one saying: we must die as men to be reborn as initiates , causes a natural fear in those people which are not very shrewd and more in love with the image they have of themselves. This fear would immediately dissolve if those unprepared people understood how little they would miss their physical personality if they joined the intelligence of the soul. Therefore the jump in the ‘Abyss of Mutation' would be considered as a providential gift.
Two ritual lights: the Menorah, the Chanukah
Inside the Masonic temple the geometry of the Sephirothic Tree is observed.
The Altar stands on the sephir Da'ath, whilst the Lodge Picture is placed on the sephir Tiphereth.
The Central Pillar, which goes from Kether to Malkuth, has the Worshipful Master at the top and the Inner and Outer Guards at the bases. It is not a coincidence that by summing up the 22 paths to the 11 sephirot the result is 33, as many as the degrees of the Scottish Pyramid of Freemasonry. It isn't incorrect either to consider the deep interpretation of the symbolism of the Greater Arcane of the Tarot as a hermetic representation of the 22 sephirothic Paths.
In the Masonic temple the energetic relations are multiplied by 12, to complete that interlacing of sentient beings that reflects on the mirror of the Floor the stars of the starry Vault , that overlooks them specularly. The physical Temple , though, doesn't shine through the stars of the ‘Starry vault', but only through the ‘Lights' that represent them.
The Menorah is the representation of our solar system and its planets. It is a seven-branched Light, around which the cycles of work of the planetary Temple revolve. We also know another kind of Light, called Chanukah , which is the esoteric interpretation of the system with ten stages of visible manifestation. This brings us back to the esoteric meaning of the Sephirothic Tree.
The Menorah reminds us that – let's take it as a postulate – in the solar system seven different but complementary energies move. Their unique source is the sun, which reflects them through as many planets. In ancient times, in the Era of Aries, the central energy of the system was reflected by Saturn, the planet of Trials. Therefore, by placing at the center of this light the domain of Saturn, and around it the lights of the other sacred planets, we remember the trials which the people of Israel was subjected to. These trials were under the aegis of Yahweh, the God that represents the destiny of that people (God of the people and Karma of the nation are the same principle). This destiny is determined by the will of only one man, called Moses .
In a later age, the Greeks thought that Jove qualified the whole system. They didn't take a candelabrum as a symbol, but rather a mountain peak. By placing on the mount Olympus the seat of God-Jove and other planets, such as Neptune , Mercury, Mars, Volcano, etc.
We might infer that the exoteric myths allowed to transmit to non advanced minds the idea of space, stars and their interactions with nature and human life. The myth is then only the elementary container where truths have been kept, which must be used and not worshipped.
The drive to look up in the sky is recurring and it arises by observing the Starry Vault. But that is not only myth either. It hides a very precise symmetry: that it is the pure Astronomy of ancient Hierophants.
Analogy of the seven, Menorah, Caduceus of Hermes and initiatory Staff
In order to understand symbolism, we must be able to understand the signs and correspondences in the metaphor used. For example a nativity scene transmits an idea to remember that goes beyond the representation itself. Indeed, only a person who is poor in spirit can try and understand the mystery of Nativity by looking at a grotto. Therefore symbols and metaphor are used to reflect a hidden principle far from the form used to represent it.
The above mentioned symbols, the Menorah, the Caduceus of Hermes and the Initiatory Staff refer to the essence of man. Except that we must distinguish the correspondences between the microcosmic man* (the Adam of Clay) and the macrocosmic man (the Adam Kadmon Son of God). But their interpretation is not so much the symbol as the meaning of the number that they share: the Seven.
Indeed, the Menorah indicates Seven sacred planets; there are Seven knots (chakras) in the Initiatory Staff, which symbolizes the backbone. Whilst in the Caduceus of Hermes, the vital ganglia intertwine Seven times to open the ‘Wings of Freedom'. For those who know the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, there are Seven Secret Masters that go in search of Hiram, their Master.
The seven sacred planets of the Menorah, the seven ganglia of the Caduceus of Hermes, the seven Chakras of the initiatory Staff, and the seven Masters in search of their First initiator (their Hierophant) are all representations of the same element, viz. the vital energy divided into two aspects, masculine and feminine. Exoterically they are often confused with the sex of the animal body, viz. with its genital attributes, male or female. But this is a mistake. It would be more correct to talk about positive and negative energetic polarity; therefore masculine and feminine are the representation of energy + (plus) and – (minus).
* Man – With the term ‘man' we mean both man and woman, because in the world of thought there aren't any sexual differences but only mental diversity.
The thought forms the mind, but the mind is not the brain, therefore the mind as well is only energy. And energy doesn't know any physical differences, only drives and emotions correspond to it. Therefore thought is what matters. To dominate the thought means to dominate any lower attribute of one's own body, included the advent of its death.
In ancient times terms like Father and Mother have been used to indicate cosmic polarity. But they were anthropomorphic representations of the centrifugal (dynamic) and centripetal (magnetic) aspects of the energy of the universe.
The Chinese have created a more precise representation of vital energy: Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang represents, without any risk of falling into the sexual misunderstanding, the positive-negative polarity of the whole manifestation. The white is never completely white and the black is never completely black, each contains a little of its complementary element.
Here we also have the philosophical aspect because, in order to bring ‘harmony' between elements apparently opposite and antitetical, we must not exacerbate their conflict, but make them both protagonists and responding to the same purpose, viz. complementary therefore harmonious.
This harmony is not only what we wish between the male and female genders of the humankind. It is, first of all, what should happen between the masculine and feminine components which each of us is a bearer of, individually and independently from the sex that distinguishes the exterior form.
The Journey of the humankind
The ‘journey of the humankind' is represented in the four journeys made by the neophyte during the first Masonic initiation to the degree of Apprentice. They represent the four great states of conscience that will be crossed during the execution of the Great earthly Work, which starts in the darkest materiality, represented in the mineral man , going to the animal man and then tend to the psychic man and finally to the spiritual man.
These passages define states of conscience that are associated with natural elements that represent their emotional peculiarities: the steadiness of the earth, the mobility of water, the lightness of air and the ardor of fire .
Obviously knowing this classification is not enough for us to be able to achieve those states of conscience. But the initiatory tradition has outlined a journey that can be carried out individually, accelerating the times of a process that otherwise, by natural course, would be extremely long. This means that we won't need to wait for the humankind to find itself in stages that are not close yet.
In psychoanalytical terms, the humankind is elaborating its sadic-oral stage, where we focus on ourselves in order to absorb any sort of experience, drawing towards ourselves all that attracts our attention. This is the childish egocentrism corresponding to the oral stage, where in order to know an object we must put it into our mouth, rather than just touching it with our hands.
Therefore in such a moment it is not surprising that it is rare to meet people who are keen on waiting for the others to satisfy their desires before worrying about their needs. The ordinary attitude is in a centripetal stage, where our energy are focused and addressed to ourselves.
But this is part of the great game of evolution and the time for the following stages will come. In the meantime, although in a narcisistic form, we should practice tolerance and altruism. We should be cosmopolitan, able to understand the cultural differences without abusing them or being abused by them. We should be enriched by the good we meet, accepting what is beautiful and being strong in rejecting what is ugly, without becoming the interpret of ordinary habits, but experiencing them with a sense of playful detachment. What today belongs to us tomorrow can be lost. Therefore we must learn to accept both the change and the detachment, from ourselves as well.
"Solve et Coagula"
The greatest symbol on which to easily focus our attention is us.
The human Being is the greatest living symbol that we may know. It is the closest representation we have of a fragment of the cosmos and in its conscience the Archetype called God is reflected.
So: Know Thyself contains a truth to be understood.
The formula ‘ Solve et Coagula ' belongs to the alchemic language. And the ‘Spiritual Alchemy', in the full respect of initiatory tradition, shows that it is an ancient form of analysis of the deep conscience.
The psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli, with his Psychosynthesis, has outlined the most modern way to interpret the potentials, even inactive ones, of man, by exploring the multi-dimension aspect of his conscience; by conceiving the distinction of conscious and unconscious sphere, but eventually including the meeting with the superconscious. In this way we can formulate the idea of a superior and transpersonal Self with which we can find a scientific connection.
Mixing thoughts and sublimating the quality and substantiality of feelings gets extraordinarily close to the formula ‘ Solve et Coagula ' which, in more modern terms, means to disintegrate and then to re-integrate . To disintegrate our own instinctive and passional sub-stance doesn't mean to trample on it or destroy it, but only to free ourselves from those integrations (habits) that ‘hold' personality strongly anchored to the earth (the animal self).
Therefore initiatory death doesn't mean at all to kill personality. On the contrary, it means to be prodigal for its education , up to giving it those aspects that correspond to one's own superior identity.
Initiatory death is the freedom from reason, breaking the charme of the animal form. Therefore initiatory death is the apology of mind. Whilst its persecution, mortification and death are barbaric terms charged with devotional passion. This passion, just like any other, must be elevated to a higher tone, which in this case is love for truth, embodied by the color white.
The ‘Solve et coagula ' shares many meanings with the hermetic V.I.T.R.I.O.L.
We often find the psycho-dramatic representation of the hero or warrior (will aspect) that faces trials and goes down in the afterworld (Ade) in search of an occult answer.
But what meaning can we give to the descent in the land of the dead ? It is singular how next to the story of any infernal descent (like Dante's) or entry into a labyrinth there is always the name of a woman. It is well known that Ariadne's thread represented the bridge between the warrior's volitional personality (intended as will aspect) and his soul. Dante as well was searching for Beatrice. But many have seen the search for the soul in this name. The Fedeli d'Amore , on the other hand, used female names to indicate the soul. Indeed, without this minstrel's disguise, they would have explicitly shown that what they were looking for opposed the instructions of a profane Church that heavily persecuted free search
Left and Right, in order to recover the meaning of male and female Initiation
Here is a value useful to give a meaning back to male and female Initiation.
Will – left lobe – the strong willed man who goes in search of the resolution of himself.
Perceptivity – right lobe – the parable that perceives, the receiving sensitivity of the myth's woman.
Man must learn to develop intuitive intelligence by strengthening the right cerebral lobe; whilst the woman must develop her will by improving the left lobe.
What we are trying to obtain is a completion of the psychic abilities that could be described as ‘spherical'. But, careful, both incentives appear in conflict because they both look for their prominence to the detriment of the other term. Therefore, to start with, this desire to be first must stop; this way man will learn to make his determination more receptive and acute, whilst the woman will make her sensitivity steadier and more determined. By doing so, the two forces of the brain end up by harmonizing, making it more prepared to respond to a mental development.*
Mind and brain – very often mind and brain are mixed up; they are not the same thing. I once used a similitude to explain the difference; here it is: ‘the mind is to the brain what hunger is to the stomach'. Therefore we must distinguish between physical organ and abstract feeling .
In Michelangelo's fresco in the Sistine Chapel, the ‘celestial Father' and the ‘earthly Son' are represented touching each other's finger. If we marked the outline of the painting the result would be the profile of a human brain. What did the artist mean? Perhaps, that spiritual conscience is not achieved through devotion but through consciousness!
Spiritual conscience is intangible, metaphysical, but its presence is felt by a mind with superior sensitivity. Reason and logics, summed to perception and intuitive intelligence achieve a complex but not complete mind. Therefore strengthening only the physical reason is not a balanced work. The demonstration is the amount of reasonable people that cause damages and commit crimes and genocides. Therefore to strengthen the physical reason it is not sufficient to guarantee a coherent growth of the psychic faculties. More is necessary in order to build a more sensitive and articulated mind, starting from self control, intuition and perception.
This is a very interesting progression. Indeed, developing the intuitive intelligence has the result of the development of empathic intelligence, which is an advanced phenomenon of psychic sensitivity. The allegory of the third eye represents the completion of the mental realization. When the faculties of the masculine and feminine aspects join together, allowing the sensitivity of the conscience to ‘focus' not on one or another aspect, but to place itself ‘at the center between the two', elaborating a third sensitive pole (third eye, indeed), a new vision emerges. The latter is wider and deeper, able to understand exterior form and inner meaning of any reality at the same time, absorbing both the concepts of form and essence. By doing so, the conscience develops a new faculty, the three-dimensional vision; perceiving through intuitive intelligence what the physical eyes cannot see.
Notions on the silent sound
All the signs of the sacred places are invisible, because they are made of relations between spaces. And spaces are ‘empty' forms that produce sounds. Indeed, because the space resounds of the tones of single forms. Human conscience as well, which is a sensitive space, in its own inner silence resounds with a silent note , called the voice of the soul.
Many people, getting in contact with particular natural places or sacred spaces, feel inside themselves the resounding of a vibration that produces commotion, anxiety or inexplicable happiness. This means that by similitude the inner space of their conscience has entered in resonance with the vibration of the place that caused them a feeling. But this synchrony proceeds from the harmony that puts in relation sensations far away from each other. For example, the assonances produced by forms, colors, sounds and movements, such as those produced by dancers.
Among the shapes, the stone objects of gothic architecture, with its empty spires, are those that can best accentuate the multiplicity of the silent sounds described in many works on the physics of sound.
Like any other sacred place, cathedrals as well have been erected on precise geophysical points, foretelling what nuclear physics confirmed, viz. identifying a magnetic grid that crosses and extends on the whole earth surface.
This electromagnetic field is the aura of the planet. At each junction, this grid activates positive-negative energetic poles, which produce energetic vortexes that resound of their own energy. For this reason the spire edges of the ancient temples and sacred buildings were conceived to widen and emanate in the surrounding space the tone that crosses the foundations horizontally. Therefore the sacred architectonic art was imagined to emphasize vertically a sinusoidal energetic sound that otherwise would only be transmitted in the horizontal level of the planetary grid.
Interiorization is a topic loved and debated by mystics, but it is also appreciated by advanced esotericists. Unfortunately, though, interiorization is often reduced to a mere escape route. An escape from life responsibilities, which we cannot avoid.
Unless it is an escape, heading towards the inner way is not only right, but desirable, provided that it all happens in the fundamental methods and times.
When starting the building of ‘our own inner Temple ' we must think about building steady foundations, otherwise the fall is certain. Therefore before erecting ‘towards the top', we must go down and rectify any waste that lies abandoned. Here the formula ‘ Solve et Coagula ' reappears.
The descent of V.I.T.R.I.O.L.
Deep down in ourselves lie abandoned parts of us. They are our doubles, the actors that played our roles. Parts of us, of our personality, which are the memory of what we have done and what we have been, lie forgotten in a dark cave called subconscious. Those doubles are the characteristics that we covered ourselves with, in order to represent the models that we interpreted and then abandoned (son-daughter, student, sportsman-woman, lover, soldier, employment-job-profession, husband-wife, mother-father, youngster-elderly, etc.) when we changed into other roles, changing also attitudes and situations.
Even though we have forgotten them, these actors are still awake and live inside us, still affecting us with their occult presence. Not only they live inside us, but they feed on our vital energy that gets wasted to no purpose whatsoever.
Therefore we should become aware of them. We should enter our inner Reflection Chamber and decide how to operate on their future.
It would be nice, fair and useful to start our work of restoration, freeing those parts of ourselves that we have imprisoned and forgotten in the dark of our inner hell , abandoning them in the ‘ Interiore Terrae ' called subconscious.
We must descend this unknown land and bring the light of reason. Descend and meet (it is not a metaphor) those characters that are the living symbols of our choices in life . In our basement we can meet proper human images that reflect the most hidden and forgotten parts of ourselves.
These are the first parts that must be ‘transformed' and ‘freed'. They are the foundations to be re-built before erecting new walls for our inner Temple .
The descent in the underworld is the first action to be carried out by those who search for their superior identity. It is a process called ‘ interiorization ', followed by ‘ disintegration ' (dis-identification from profane models), which is the liberating stage of the process, followed by ‘ re-integration ', viz. the identification of ourselves with high profile ideas, such as those that characterize the superior Ego. But all this might seem a dream, an illusion. Yet it is used by modern science, since S. Freud classified it as phantasmal enquiry (1942). The ancient meanings of the Raja Yoga, of the science of the soul in eastern mysticism, the ‘Know thyself' of ancient Greece and the alchemic process all match with present meanings. The inner metamorphosis , then, is an operating and achievable reality.
Medical science has experienced the induction of states of trance through hypnosis and regression hypnosis. But remembering through hypnosis had the fault of causing dependence, as well as transference and undesired imprinting. Then the method of alert hypnosis was used. The important advantage was that the person could self-determine the duration and depth of his experience. The requirement necessary to carry out this experience and make the inner journey effective is the development of a high psychic ability: the ‘inner vision '.
Indeed, visualization allows to meet, but most of all to communicate with our ‘inner ghosts'. So much so that we can guide them and bring them back to the surface of conscience , in order to free their substance and allow us to get those portions of energy back, which otherwise would remain unused forever.
This energetic enrichment is not only an act of inner justice (freeing the ghosts that we have created ourselves), but it means to free ourselves forever from their occult influence: the so called ‘temptation'. Furthermore, regenerating all those sleeping forces means to put back in circulation a lot of psychic energy. It is not enough to consider the rejuvenation of physical personality , but with so much energy available again it means to give back ‘strength and vigor' to our own propositions, actions and future.