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The Three Lights, the Four Castes and the Four Ages

by Adriano Nardi

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Dedicated to Athos A. Altomonte’s work of instruction

Index: The Three Lights, the Four Castes and the Four Ages - The Three Aspects - Cycles Cadences and Rhythms - The Three Pillars in the Temple

In the practice of instructing it is not important to talk big about small things; it is necessary to talk simply on the three levels. Not great speeches for small concepts but rather getting into an ideaas deeply as possible or at least try.

When an instruction presents the same topic in different languages, its occult effect is: «to be able to disown the forms’ by recognizing the essence of every form».

To deal with a concept on various levels and in different languages allows us to recognize the substance, which is similar in the various fields without being slave of the “form” used to dress the idea. It means to use the form without being its prisoner (this is also the path to understand the occult definition of “prisoners of the planet” given by the Ancient Wisdom).

Starting from a superficial view of the concept, in order to penetrate it, it is necessary to grasp the essence of the words used to define it. At first we don’t master the concepts we are dealing with and which we want to enter; therefore the first thing to do is to recognize them, visualize them to have a realistic image of them and understand their dimensions. Indeed when we start a job it is a good idea to get to grips with the size of the obstacle. If we only consider partial elements we underestimate the obstacle in the whole. Only then we will be able to “enter it”.

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The Three Lights, the Four Castes and the Four Ages

When we access the Temple, we will start considering the Three Lights. Their position in the Temple as we know it could be challenged by some people, who could indicate another one. The substance does not change in the Masonic and Esoteric work, if we work on men. Indeed with the forms we can do everything as far as the human is concerned. We can play any kind of form.

Considering our Temple and skipping the titles, we can state that he who seats as Worshipful in the Temple should coordinate in quality and quantity the work in the Lodge (especially in quality). The other two Lights should make qualitative decisions such as direction and depth of the Worshipful, coordinating the general guidelines in particular. The 2nd Warden should take an almost motherly care of the candidates to the initiation, which we can call the Apprentices. The 1st Warden should substantially coordinate the work of the Fellows in the chosen quality.

As the rituals and statues in the Temple next to the Three Lights (Minerva, Hercules and Venus) remind us, the W. M. should express Wisdom; the 1st Warden should express Strength; the 2nd Warden should express Beauty.

At this point we can start a thorough immersion.

Outside the door of the Temple there is the fourth aspect to consider on top of the three mentioned above, the Profane World. The Profane World is where we should bring willingness and wisdom; those who can, love as well.

Three Lights Castes and Ages

I would like to draw the attention now on the fact that in the Ancient Wisdom the Eras are indicated as four; coincidentally we have four focal points in the Temple (as we master the symbolic language it is quite rewarding to realize how in the Temple there is everything. It is called the “worker’s pay”; we are rewarded). The four Eras - Ages of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron - are connected in the reasoning by a close analogy to the system of the Castes*.


* System of Castes - The considerations on the System of Castes that we will make below it is not praise, but the recognition of the fact that in the past knowledge was limited to a restricted class. In the past - before man’s ignorance distorted it to guarantee privileges to the detriment of other men - certain restrictions were applied wisely; since then evolution has made many turns. Today it is appropriate to revaluate the conditions of life and get rid of the obstacles of prejudices.

The system of castes has become in time a hindrance to culture, so much so that we can nowadays say that castes are detrimental. We are not talking only about the Indian ones, because they unfortunately exist under different names in all countries. And everywhere they are damaging and need to be eliminated.

In the past castes had practical purposes but they have been obsolete for a long time and today we cannot consider them as rational. The ancient divisions in castes, classes and professions are - now and even more so in the future - replaced by a complex distinction based on light and shadow. This separation will choose the best human groups. Without details we must trace a general separating line between light and shadow, as if we were enrolling a new army.

The element on which we will found these researches will be analogy, analogic research, which offers the most guarantees. When we are not sure about something we are examining, if we compare the various forms (in the various levels and languages) in which the concept has been represented; if by overlapping them we find that they match, then the analogy is real and makes sense. This must be done because we need to find a conviction inside and not accept something just because someone said it. It is a recognition that we must carry out ourselves; this is important because it prevents us from taking a passive attitude with all its consequences (see transference, coercion, …)

The Chaos, viz. the Age of Iron (Kali Yuga) consists of the overturning of the castes and social order.

The Sacerdotal Order is the first in the order, because it was the aspect that regulated the humankind at first (the Great Human Lodge) giving it Laws and dispositions. If anyone thinks he can find limitations in them, we must say that if there were any they were in the men who implemented them rather than in the Laws themselves.

The Sacerdotal caste kept the relation between the divine and the physical planes, which in its “immersing in the matter” became more and more stifling and chaotic. It represented the wisdom aspect, although in a limited way. The Priests had the task to embody wisdom through laws and rituals. Money was coined by the Priests of the Temple as well; indeed they were the only holders of the right to emit money and even change it.

When Jesus Christ banished the merchants from the Temple in actual fact he was against the Priests that had hoarded this great power, corrupting moral values and losing the initiatory concepts of the caste itself. They offered wisdom, knowledge as well as the communication between the divine outside man and that small molecule that is inside everyone through recognition.

«The exclusion of the merchants from the Temple is a symbolic warning; that Temple is also the human spirit from which we need to expel the mercenary thoughts. It is a lesson that has been deformed. Nobody dreams of abolishing the trade of daily needs, but merchants must attend their business with an enlightened heart. Any element of life can be spiritualized».

All the work must be done in the conscience. The system is pre-existent, there is already, because it was created before any form and incarnation. The system exists; what’s missing is the ultimate vehicle and most of all conscience, which embraces the whole system.

When this caste started becoming profane, trading itself and compromising with power, it gradually (we are talking millennia) lost the prerogatives that characterized it, especially knowledge.

We will see that wisdom is not Wisdom, just like strength is not Strength and beauty is not Beauty; they are profanations of the Age of Iron.

The second caste was the Warrior Caste, Strength. This used to dominate with the use of Force, rather than Spirit or Love.

Beauty was represented by the caste of Magistrates, the Pharisees, those who were between the Sacerdotal and the Warrior castes. They were not “high” enough to be priests; indeed Jesus attacked the Pharisees, the “profane priests” who read the holy books simply for the words inside them and not for their meaning, which is the deep meaning of knowledge. Here it is worth highlighting an aspect that can be useful to the aspiring researcher. In order to know what an author is writing we must connect with the idea that drove him to write, trying to feel as he feels, then start thinking as he does, understand and even talk with his writings, through a shapeless bridge.

The Magistrates, but most of all the Merchants, were those who used money - symbol of the sun, golden and full of esoteric symbols and meanings - for individual purposes.

Then there were the people, unable to intend and want, who didn’t have many aspirations and whose spiritual eye was still closed. They respected the Sacerdotal caste out of superstition and the Warrior one out of fear. Respect was not originated from a ritual hierarchic order, but from a hierarchy of strength based on punishment and penalties.

Why, then, this connection between the four castes and the four Ages? In the Age of Gold the Laws were proclaimed and the Humankind focused around this caste; the tendency towards spiritual was still prevailing. In the second Age there were armies, invasions and colonization aimed at power with the use of the force. In the third Age with the advent of colonies, trade and the use of money started. The Age of Iron, known in the East as Kali Yuga, was characterized as the period of upturning of castes. A focal point in this phenomenon of destruction of castes was represented by Bolshevism, where the equality among individual was upheld to the detriment of personality, with a levelling towards the bottom, where meritocracy is not recognized and nothing exists but concrete things.

Now there is a re-validation of ourselves, in a spontaneous research for elements such as brotherhood and tolerance within diversity. Indeed, there cannot be two identical men, because in the moment itself when two identical men exist we don’t have two but one. Each of us has his own place in the Universe and until each of us will find his own, in the Universe there will be chaos. This is the only real chaos.

The «know thyself» for every individual starts with the recognition of the attributes that “color” his own lower three-fold self, personality (recognizing one’s own strong and vulnerable points and those where we are lacking); the absence of this awareness leads men to occupy roles and functions - this is true in any social environment - acting in spaces that do not compete to them (for absence or lack of the necessary qualities, and not for social class or other intolerable forms of discriminations). The non-recognition of the quality together with a short-sighted levelling without discerning are the bases of chaos.

What here might appear as a pessimistic note, is not such for the esoteric researcher who knows the involutional-evolutional cycle connected with the process of deep immersion in the matter of the Wave of Life and the following redemption of substance. This process is true for any form of life in nature, for sub-human kingdoms, for man as an individual and as humankind in the whole, for a planet and a solar system. The Christ was able to teach beautifully this fundamental process, passing it on simply with the parable of the Prodigal Son.

The decline of castes harmonizes with this process of immersion in the matter. It will lead those who already work on the evolutionary arch to recognize their own place autonomously, thus contributing to work for the order, embodying the masonic motto «ordo ab chao».

Discent into the matter.jpg

The Three Aspects

The three forces that work in a Temple are the same forces which have “soaked” the Humankind since the beginning. These Rays, these emanations which moved the conscience of the Planet where we have always been immersed are: the Love-Wisdom aspect, the Will aspect and the Activity aspect.

It is quite clear, then, how the Age of Iron vulgarized these principles and therefore it gave them to us in terms that distorted its meaning and original sense.

The Strength aspect is definitely a degeneration of what is recognizable as the Will aspect. The Strength aspect is colored with egoism, whilst the Will aspect belongs to individualism (the spiritual essence of any man). It is one of the aspects that make the Triplicity of the “Father”. The strength indicated as anattribute of the divinity is also the result of the profane politics of certain religions, which imposed a “human” God who punishes those who don’t follow the “law”. Men worship a God created to their likeness and attribute to him the same vices. “When the human conscience will stop representing the divine in an earthly manner, the conquests of the spirit will be blazing”.

These aspects have nevertheless had an influence, although distorted by that “opaque” or strange “crystal” that is man’s mind. Each man expresses one or the other of the above mentioned aspects, even in a form that is not crystalline. The uniqueness is achieved when we find the triplicity inside ourselves - which is seven-fold, since the third aspect includes the other four in itself. Until we represent one aspect we lack the other two. To understand this is fundamental in order for the Lodge to work properly.

In actual fact, on a substance level, we have not yet become aware of certain “shortcuts” that we all have, represented by our qualities. Through the “good crystal” we can find the other two aspects, developing through gifts. Therefore it would be useful to start giving less importance to the deficit aspect and not focus only on faults; if we consider them we get lost in chaos. Indeed, faults in general leads us to sub-consciousness, which we might call our “dump” and that we do not want to energize. On the contrary we are interested into the super-consciousness, the Ego, our higher Self. Therefore by emphasizing our positive part, through it and with the relative language (for example if someone is characterized by the love aspect, that language will be more suitable to him) we can find the complementary - which in the Temples is represented in the aspects of the Menorah (see the articles in Imago Templi – Book V).

The form of expression of the Love-Wisdom aspect can be the Be Able to Do. The W. M. should be the person who can manage the destinies of the brothers in the twelve months, because he is the one who decides on doing and not doing. The Strength which for the above mentioned issues would be better to recognize in the Will Aspect, can be associated with the Want to Do, whilst the Activity aspect with the Know How to Do, because «to be able we must know first; to act we must be able to».

For the will of three brothers we build a triangle, where each of themshouldritually be able to express these three Aspects. I must remind you, though, that if the three brothers are separated they are in conflict and the mistake is that they will follow the mental itinerary represented in the image (a), whilst they must meet in the center (b).

Energies Three Lights

Accepting this hypothesis of work we have a three-fold emanation, which is the so-called Eggregore, represented in the Lodge Picture at the center of the Temple. If all this actually happens and this triplicity is activated (beyond forms, but most of all in the aspiration, meant as devotion to what the builder builds), the Eggregore conveys something that is not separated any longer, but a “whirlwind”. Therefore three Bros. who work on this wave and with intention start receiving the synthesis from the central point, what they are able to perceive. This synthesis is three-fold whilst any other aspect (mental, emotional, personal, it is still one, the expression of a single aspect).

What is shown is the three-fold work, or better the research of triplicity. Not without reason the first initiation coincides with the opening of the center of the heart, seat of the synthetic conscience.

As far as the four castes are concerned, it is interesting to observe the allegory of Jesus Christ’s birth. The Redeemer was born in a cave (initiatory symbol) which then became a stable, at the presence of an animal dualism (the delusion of opposites on the physical plane). Socially the world around him was represented by profane people, the fourth caste. He was visited by the Three Wise Men, representing the three castes. The mystic-sacerdotal aspect was contained in the gift of frankincense, the power in the gift of gold and the myrrh was a precious element of the time. The recognition by the Wise Men, on a biblical level, means that He was the Redeemer of the humble but at the same time he was recognized by these three Great Wise Men as an entity above castes. They gave their reverence in full maturity to a Being not yet master of his own body.

We have the chance, and it depends solely upon us, to recreate and let flow through our conscience and the attributes, in us and around us, these forces. But first we must be able to understand and recognize them in order to use them.

Cycles, Cadences and Rhythms

Bringing now our attention to the mechanism of Light, let’s avert our eyes from the inner aspect of the triangle we considered (the Soul of the Temple) made by the three Lights and their energetic interaction and let’s see the mechanism that they can use.

Let’s consider the triangle as if it was the hand of a clock.

Cycles Cadences and Rhythms.jpg

It will move in the Cycles, Cadences and Rhythms; in the Temple the temporal reference is given by the Pillars, symbolically linked to the zodiac. Therefore we must recognize not only what we need to do, but also when, looking for the headway of the wind (which Tradition calls “the recognition of the dates”). This implies the knowledge of esoteric Astrology, which studies the starry Vault with its luminaries and the energetic influences that they employ on the Solar System and its Planets, therefore on man. This indication is given to the Mason when he is taught the instruments that he will have to use in order to go up the ladder of initiations. Indeed it is among the Seven Liberal Arts, although with the inappropriate name of Astronomy, which considers only quantity, whilst we need esoteric Astrology which considers the quality aspect.

Going back to our representation, this “hand” should move with the movement of the Lodge, which is the Planet. For this reason it is desirable to bring the conscience of work on the Planet (where we live) inside the Temple. This will help align the rhythms of the individual and then of the group with those of the Planet; it means to harmonize with the rhythms of Nature. It is possible to develop an observation of self by starting from the cycle inside the minute, the hour, the day, the month, the year and so on.

The Three Pillars in the Temple

Just like there are three Lights in the Temple, on the floor also called the labyrinth, there are three pillars that indicate the three major aspects. The Masters tell us that the most important masonic work is constituted by the recognition of the work on the floor. This instrument will not be used forever; indeed, after recognizing and learning how to use it, we can move on. We are talking about the Sephirotic Tree.

There are three pillars and ten fundamental points. This “system” symbolized by the floor and what it hides, is good for a single man and the whole humankind, for an incarnation and a whole cycle of incarnations. We could call it “The paths of Opportunities”. When we are inside all is left to Free Will. Until the individual or the group recognizes the path they cannot leave it, because it’s like a cage, a labyrinth indeed. And the path can only be recognized by oneself; we need to walk it ourselves, nobody can do it in our place. Even if we join a group, the latter with its choices and consequent actions will generate effects by the law of Cause and Effect (in the East we would say that it creates one’s own karma) that would lead it to face gradually all the stages. This process, which we are not aware of today, is what is desirable to happen to Freemasonry in the future. Let’s keep in mind, then, that Free Will is a key aspect to deal with this “system” without getting deep into the symbols and meanings contained in them for the moment.

Eliphas Levi left us an interesting code where there are 22 paths and 22 cards. It is a Hebrew system, although there is one in another language that can be compared to it. For the moment let’s consider the sephiroticsystem, also because Freemasonry’s tradition is strongly influenced by Hebraism. Harking back to the initial assumption we recognize any kind of form and then we move on. 22 are the paths, 22 are the Hebrew sacred letters; each path represents a card. E. Levi leaves us this beautiful work that can be related to a system applicable to man, Celestial Man (Adam Kadmon) and the whole Humankind.

Since it is a symbolically timeless and spaceless instrument, we could have its metaphysical translation without time, space and form but it would be hard to understand. To ease our work, we bring it back in the time system of cycles - seasons, years, incarnations.

Once “descended” in the physical plane, the Love-Wisdom aspect has become Wisdom (more as Knowledge), the Will aspect has become Strength and the Activity aspect has become Beauty. This brings us back to the conscious use of the three Fundamental Rays (I, II and III) – which, I’d like to remind you, must include the four Rays of Attribute, just like the latter must stretch out to the Fundamentals (for example the devotee must stretch out to knowledge and become a wise man). This is necessary in order to find the triplicity in ourselves, which is the goal at least on the plane of knowledge.

As far as the implementation of these concepts in ourselves is concerned, it is necessary to appeal to meditation first and visualization later. Meditation, as we know, means to concentrate, to try to “envelop” the concept. Visualization, joined with meditation and concrete attributes, means to see the concept in order to become so thoroughly aware of it or the symbol that we can become the concept itself. When we perceive by contact the concept or the symbol, we can actually feel it and we identify with it. Only by feeling something we can understand it. It is direct knowledge or Knowledge by contact.

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This article comes from Esotericism Readings

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