THIS brings us to speak of what the Atonement is, and of the sense in which we are to understand it, in its fourfold interpretation. First, let us remind the reader, the Cross and the Crucified are symbols which come down to us from prehistoric ages, and are to be found depicted on the ruined monuments, temples, and sarcophagi of all nations, – Coptic, Ethiopian, Hindu, Mexican, Tartar. In the rites of all these peoples, and especially in the ceremonials of initiation field in the Lodges of their Mysteries, the Cross had a prominent place. It was traced on the forehead of the neophyte with water or oil, as now in Catholic Baptism and Confirmation; it was broidered on the sacred vestments, and carried in the hand of the officiating hierophant, as may be seen in all the Egyptian religious tablets. And this symbolism has been adopted by and incorporated into the Christian theosophy, not, however, through a tradition merely imitative, but because the Crucifixion is an essential element in the career of the Christ. For, as says the Master, expounding the secret of Messiahship, “Ought not the Christ to suffer these things, and so to enter into his glory?” Yes, for this Cross of Christ – the spiritual Phoebus, – is made by the sun’s equinoctial passage across the line of the Ecliptic, – a passage which points on the one hand to the descent into Hades; and on the other to the ascent into the kingdom of Zeus the Father. It is the Tree of Life; the Mystery of the Dual Nature, male and female; the Symbol of Humanity perfected, and of the Apotheosis of Suffering. It is traced by “our Lord the Sun” on the plane of the heavens; it is represented by the magnetic and diamagnetic forces of the earth; it is seen in the ice-crystal and in the snow-flake; the human form itself is modeled upon its pattern; and all nature bears throughout her manifold spheres the impress of this sign, at once the prophecy and the instrument of her redemption.
21. Fourfold in meaning, having four points, and making four angles, dividing the circle into four equal parts, the cross portrays the perfect union, balance, equality, and at-one-ment on all four planes, and in all four worlds – phenomenal, intellectual, psychic, and celestial – of the Man and the Woman, the Spirit and the Bride. It is supremely, transcendently, and excellently, the symbol of the Divine Marriage; that is, the Sign of the Son of Man IN HEAVEN. For the Divine Marriage is consummated only when the Regenerate Man enters the Kingdom of the Celestial, which is within. When the Without is as the Within, and the Twain are as One in Christ Jesus.
22. Being thus the key of all the worlds, from the outer to the inner, the Cross presents, as it were, four wards or significations; and according to these, the mystery of the Crucifixion bears relation: First, to the natural and actual sense, and typifies the Crucifixion of the Man of God by the world. Secondly, to the intellectual and philosophical sense; and typifies the Crucifixion in man of the lower nature. Thirdly, to the personal and sacrificial sense, and symbolizes the Passion and Oblation of the Redeemer. Fourthly, to the celestial and creative sense, and represents the Oblation of God for the Universe.
23. First in order, from without inwards, the Crucifixion of the Man of God implies that persistent attitude of scorn, distrust, and menace with which the Ideal and Substantial is always met by the worldly and superficial, and to the malignant expression of which ill-will the Idealist is always exposed. We have noted that Isaias, rebuking the materialists for their impure and cruel rites, addresses them as “rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah.” So likewise, the Seer of the Apocalypse speaks of the two divine Witnesses as slain “in the streets of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also the Lord was crucified.” This city, then, is the world, the materializing, the idolatrous, the blind, the sensual, the unreal; the house of bondage, out of which the sons of God are called. And the world being all these, is cruel as hell, and will always crucify the Christ and the Christ-Idea. For the world, which walks in a vain shadow, can have no part in the kingdom of heaven; the man who seeks the Within and the Beyond is to it a dotard, a fool, an impostor, a blasphemer, or a madman, and according to the sense of its verdict, it ridicules, maligns, despoils, punishes, or sequesters him. And thus every great and merciful deed, every noble life, every grand and holy name, is stamped with the hall-mark of the Cross. Scorn and contumely and the cries of an angry crowd surround that altar on which the Son of God makes oblation of himself; and cross after cross strews the long Via Dolorosa of the narrow path that leadeth unto Life. For indeed the world is blind, and every redemption must be purchased by blood.
24. Yes, by blood and tears and suffering, and that not of the body only; for the Son of God, to attain that Sonship, must have first crucified in himself the old Adam of the earth. This is the second meaning of the Cross; it sets forth that interior process of pain which precedes regeneration; that combat with and victory over the tempter, through which all the Christs alike have passed; the throes of travail which usher in the New-Born. And the crucified, regenerate Man, having made At-on-ment throughout his own fourfold nature, and with the Father through Christ, bears about in himself the “marks” of the Lord, – the five wounds of the five senses overcome, the “stigmata” of the saints. This crucifixion is the death of the body; the rending of the veil of the flesh; the uniting of the human will with the Divine Will; or, as it is sometimes called, the Reconciliation – which is but another word for the At-one-ment. It is the consummation of the prayer, “Let Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven;” let Thy will, O Father, be accomplished throughout the terrene and astral, even as it is in the inmost adytum, that in all the microcosmic system no other will be found than the Divine.
25. This, also, is the secret of transmutation, – the changing of the water into wine, of Matter into Spirit, of man into God. For this blood of Christ and of the Covenant – this wine within the holy Chalice, of which all must drink who nevermore would thirst – is the Divine Life, the vital, immortal principle, having neither beginning nor end, the perfect, pure, and incorruptible Spirit, cleansing and making white the vesture of the soul as no earthly purge can whiten; the gift of God through Christ, and the heritage of the elect. To live the Divine Life is to be partaker in the blood of Christ and to drink of Christ’s cup. It is to know the love of Christ which “passeth understanding,” the love which is Life, or God, and whose characteristic symbol is the blood-red ray of the solar prism. By this mystical blood we are saved, – this blood, which is no other than the secret of the Christs, whereby man is transmuted from the material to the spiritual plane, the secret of inward purification by means of Love. For this “blood,” which, throughout the sacred writings is spoken of as the essential principle of the “Life,” is the spiritual Blood of the spiritual Life, – Life in its highest, intensest, and most excellent sense, – not the mere physical life understood by materialists, – but the very substantial Being, the inward Deity in man. And it is by means of this Blood of Christ only – that is by means of Divine Love only – that we can “come to the Father,” and inherit the kingdom of heaven. For, when it is said that “the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin,” it is signified that sin is impossible to him who is perfect in Love.
26. But the Christ is not only the type of the sinless Man, the hierarch of the mysteries; he is also the Redeemer. Now, therefore, we come to speak of the Vicarious and Redemptive office of the Divine Man, of his Passion, Sacrifice, and Oblation for others. There is a true and there is a false rendening of this Mystery of Redemption which is the central mystery of the Divine Life, the gold of the target, the heart of Jesus, the bond of all grace, the very core and focus and crown of Love. This third aspect of the Cross is in itself two-fold, because Wisdom and Love, though one in essence are twain in application, since Love cannot give without receiving, nor receive without giving. We have, therefore, in this double mystery both the oblation and lifting-up of the Christ in Man, and the Passion and Sacrifice for others of the Man in whom Christ is manifest. For even as Christ is one in us are we one with Christ, because as Christ loves and gives himself for us, we also, who are in Christ, give ourselves for others.
27. But the notion that man requires, and can be redeemed only by a personal Saviour in the flesh, extraneous to himself, is an idolatrous travesty of the truth. For that whereby a man is “saved” is his own re-birth and At-one-ment in a sense transcending the phenomenal. And this process is altogether interior to the man, and incapable of being performed from without or by another; a process requiring to be enacted anew in each individual, and impossible of fulfillment by proxy in the person of another. True, the new spiritual Man thus born of Water and the Spirit, or of the Pure Heart and the Divine Life; the Man making oblation on the cross, overcoming Death and ascending to Heaven is named Christ-Jesus, the Only Begotten, the Virgin-born, coming forth from God to seek and to save the lost; but this is no other than the description of the man himself after transmutation into the Divine Image. It is the picture of the regenerate man, made “alive in Christ,” and “like unto him.” For the Christos or Anointed, the Chrestos or Best, are but titles signifying Man Perfect; and the name of Jesus, at which every knee must bow, is the ancient and ever Divine Name of all the Sons of God – Iesous or Yesha, he who shall save, and Issa the Illuminated, or Initiate of Isis. For this name Isis, originally Ish-Ish, was Egyptian for Light-Light; that is, light doubled, the known and the knowing made one, and reflecting each other. It is the expression of the apostolic utterance, “Face to face, knowing as we are known, transformed into the image of His glory.” Similarly our affirmatives is and yes; for in both Issue and lesous “all the promises of God are Yes,” because God is the supreme Affirmative and Positive of the universe, enlightening every soul with truth and life and power. God is the Sun of the soul, whereof the physical sun is the hieroglyph, as the physical man is of the true eternal spiritual Man.
28. The light is positive, absolute, the sign of Being and of the everlasting “Yes;” and “the children of the Light” are they who have the gnosis and eternal Life thereby. But the negation of God is “Nay,” the Night, the Destroyer and the devil. The name therefore of Antichrist is Denial, or Unbelief, the spirit of Materialism and of Death. And the children of darkness are they who have quenched in themselves the divine Love, and “know not whither they go, because darkness hath blinded their eyes.” Hence the Serpent of the Dust is spoken of as “the Father of Lies,” that is, of negation; for the word “lie” means nothing else than “denial.” “No denial is of the truth,” says St. John, “for this is Antichrist, even he that denieth. Every spirit which annulleth Jesus (or the divine Yes) is not of God. By this we know the spirit of Truth, and the spirit of Error.”
(Anna Kingsford, The Perfect Way, Lecture 4, Part III, 20)
(Anna Kingsford, The Perfect Way, Lecture 4, Part III, 20)